Moodymann is an unusual figure in music. Unpigeonholeable but capable of turning out classics in so many styles. He’s someone whose musical output I’ve loved for a long time but who, despite an almost mythical status, in still very underground and unheard of. He picks his gigs and they are rare in the UK so it’s no big sacrifice to be making a trip on London to see him.
Also making the trip worth the time and effort is the thought that he’s playing at Benji B’s Deviation residency at XOYO plus I’m going with Mr Noah Priddle and Miss Caiti Black as well as Noah’s good friend with good taste, Jarvie. Great company at a special night at a well-renown venue.
How often do these kind of nights become more than the considerable sum of their parts? I’m a little worried by the thought that it might not deliver as the only other time I saw Moodymann was a special afternoon session at the Roller Disco at Bestival. Will it be as good?
As we walk in to the venue the upstairs room is packed and intense. Heavy, driving house isn’t what I want right at this moment but this is room 2 with Ossie holding it down all night and he’s well into his stride as are a large part of his crowd. We leave them to it and move down to the bigger, subterranean room 1 where Benji B is throwing down funk, disco jams and boogie. Perfect vibes.
Drinks in hand we secure our spot for the night on the riser down the throat of the room with the lighting man, who is doing, and continues to do, a sensational job of working the room’s great rig. The vibes are very easy to lock into and, as the track selection starts to take in slo-mo techno and wonky house, we slip into dancing and only stop for drinks for the next four and a half hours.
The Deviation main man hands over to Detriot’s finest with some Prince and the prince of the MPC keeps the grooves deep and techy for a while. The crowd are lapping it up but there are a few bemused faces, he hasn’t spoken and, as usual, he’s mask-clad . Is it actually him?
There’s no doubt when the session really takes hold as he drops heavy jam after heavy jam. It’s deep, spiritual, uplifting, funk-loaded, jazz-soaked and totally danceable. Our perfectly timed evening is topped of by a trip into the heart of the floor for what turns out to be Moody’s last tune and when he finally salutes us on the mike, there’s no mistaking his languid tones.
The evening does deliver then, in every way possible and I can still dance like a loon until the sun comes up. Only issue is it feels like I may have given myself shin splints dancing, but I have been moving for over an hour more than when I was last up here running the marathon. Maybe I need to keep this kind of training up for a while. As Noah says on the way home, who needs a gym when you’ve got Moodymann!