Hip hop icon hits London

Legions of fans (myself included) have waited years for the infamous villain DOOM (a.k.a. King Geedorah, MF Doom, Viktor Vaughan, Metal Fingers, Daniel Dumille) to play UK soil, and they swelled London’s cavernous Roundhouse on Friday night as he took centre-stage.

The sell-out show was the first installment of ‘A Taste Of Sonar’, a takeover of talent from the impeccable Catalonian purveyors of electronic and underground sounds. The double-header – with Laurent Garnier topping the bill on the Saturday night – is kickstarting a milestone year for the festival institution, who are expanding their repertoire by introducing a second city (A Coruña) to their Barcelona mainstay later in the summer.

A technically astute warm-up was provided by the Lex DJ’s; manning the MPC in tandem with turntables to deliver a hybrid of hard hip-hop bangers and head-nod-triggering effects.
10pm came and 10pm went. In fact a good hour passed from his planned time of appearance, until the ever-masked enigma DOOM finally emerged from the shadows, flinging himself straight into verse to whip the static crowd into a frenzy. Backed up by little and large MCs, within no time at all the soundsystem was on full attack.

An early inclusion of ‘All Caps’ marked a turn in which DOOM took the crowd through a succession of the heaviest of hits from an impressive back catalogue. ‘Hoe Cakes’ for instance had much more muscle than it does in recorded form. Though naturally the best reception came from choices on his most recent long-player ‘Born Like This’; tracks ‘Ballskin’, ‘Angels’ and particularly ‘Gazillion Ear’, which saw J-Dilla’s production resound with absolutely earth-shattering impact inside the venue.

Admittedly though, by the very nature of his art, the live show is going to be a difficult for DOOM to master. The roar of the speaker stacks did drown out intricacies, melody and vocal, and the consensus seemed to be that it was tough to lock into the quick-witted wordplay that he trademarks.

An encore sealed the show, however Herbert, Roska and Red Bull Music Academy participants kept things royally cranked and bass-heavy until 3am. So, considering the rarity of DOOM appearances this side of the Atlantic, and not forgetting Four Tet, Hudson Mohawke and Laurent Garnier performing on the Saturday showcase, this significant date in the UK music calendar deserves applaud.

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