Random Reflections On The Roots @ Bristol Academy
December 4, 2008, 10:11 pm
Filed under: Miscellaneous

The music blogger in me wanted to attend last night’s performance by the legendary Roots crew, make a mental note of all the finer nuances of their set and put together a comprehensive, analytical review that would do the Philly boys justice on what might be their last tour ever (I’m not convinced they’re gonna be able to stay away from it after all these years on the road).  Alas, I was enjoying myself far too much to indulge in such anal nitpickery, so here are some of my scattered, somewhat chronological thoughts and memories of a truly exceptional performance.

– Seeing a sousaphone resting behind one of the speakers and feeling the inital glimmers of what was to come.

– Reflecting on why promoters in Bristol make such bad programming choices on nights like this.  In short, the support acts sucked gonads.

– Hearing said sousaphone play out a three note riff from behind stage, the lights drop and seeing Black Thought, ?uest et al making their first appearance.

– Pondering after 20 minutes or so whilst on my way to the bar whether the show was necessarily going to be all that.  Realising after 40 minutes that it was.

– Obligatory rendition of ‘Proceed’ breaking down into a five minute percussive extravaganza with the question and answer format executed to an astonishing level of musicianship with some reverb effects thrown in for good measure.

– Hearing ‘Long Time’ after listening to it almost non-stop for the last two days.

– Admiring the adaptability of the saxophonist/guitarist/vocalist who switched effortlessly between all three roles.

– Thinking how much fun it must be to play a sousaphone and hop around on one leg doing 360 spins in front of a live audience.

– The blazing bass solo during a fantastic rendition of ‘You Got Me’.  Reptilian looking bassist in argyle sweater done good.

– Realising that for the first time in years I was at a hip hop gig without feeling constantly annoyed by those around me who were younger or resent for those of my age and above who look to be taking it all too seriously, man.  The Roots cure overt self-awareness!

– A ten minute Fela Kuti tribute that hit the ball out of the park.  I see you Jeff.

– Stamping my feet as the group made their way off stage in anticipation of the encore.  Apologies to the man stood behind me whose toe I may have broken.

– The band reappearing on stage, performing a cover of ‘Love Lockdown’ and ?uest goofing around on the mic.  Auto-tuned laughter sounds similar to children overdosing on helium and yet manages to be even more bizarre and infinitely more disturbing.

– Rocking out to a final barrage of classic funk breaks with Black Thought still runnin’ tings on the mic.

– Leaving with the knowledge that I may never see this group perform again but feeling fine about it given that this was one of the most awe-inspiring, faultless sets I’ve ever seen in my life.

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