SBTRKT, Nottingham Rock City, Tuesday February 28
Originally booked to play the Rescue Rooms, SBTRKT were swiftly bumped up to Rock City, due to a level of local demand that seemed to take them somewhat by surprise. This was the biggest date on the duo’s current tour, and their awestruck wonder at the near-capacity crowd was a true pleasure to behold.
Fuelled by the unprecedented lashings of love in the room, Aaron Jerome (the masked drummer) and Sampha (the knob-twiddling singer) rose to the challenge and delivered a masterful set, which infected the crowd with the same sense of wide-eyed delight.
Placed early in the set, current single Hold On triggered the first of many massed sing-alongs, despite its decidedly downbeat lyric (“You’re giving me the coldest stare, like you don’t even know I’m here”). Based on their recorded output, you might not have had SBTRKT pegged as a sing-along kind of act, but this wasn’t a night for moody introspection. Even the darker, more abstract passages went down a storm, and their sure grasp on dance dynamics never faltered.
Although there were only two players on stage, and although most of the music was electronically generated, there was nothing sterile about this show, which left you in no doubt of its essential spontaneity. Sounds were looped and twisted at will, and Aaron’s live drumming added a vital extra dimension.
Closing with Wildfire – their best-known track, championed by both Radio One and 6Music – the lads opted for the Drake remix, complete with taped vocals from the unsurprisingly absent rapper (who will be here in his own right on April 25th). And for the encore, they dragged their excellent support act Disclosure back on stage, for an unscheduled jam on one of the teenage brothers’ own tracks. The experiment worked a treat, ending one of the best nights of live dance music that Rock City has seen in a long, long time.