Calvin Harris @ The O2 academy, Birmaingham 28/10/09
This was my first visit to the 02 academy since it relocated to Horsefair in Birmingham and I wondered if would be as awesome as the old place. It has undergone a 5.5 million pound revamp and now boasts three independent venues. It is ma-hu-sive – loads of room and a good spot of the stage from wherever you choose to stand. There is also a seated area up on the balcony for those who prefer a spot of chair dancing. I was also impressed with the raised area to the left of the stage for those with disabilities to enjoy a good view of the gig without getting bashed by insensitive wot-sits.

This was a gig I had been looking forward to for quite some time. Well true to form and in line with the exceptionally bad week that Kat and I were having, we hit problems. Notably that the camera wouldn’t work without a battery in it! So we headed back out of town to retrieve said battery and made our way back to Mr Harris. Unfortunately this meant that we missed some of the support act, Mr Hudson. We were both more than a little gutted, but the tracks we did hear were phenomenal.
Calvin Harris @ The O2 academy, Birmaingham 28/10/09
Mr Hudson (formerly of Mr Hudson & the library) is signed to Kanye West’s label and seriously going places. Front man Ben ‘Mr’ Hudson is accompanied by four other members whose musical support provide vocals, steel drum, electric keyboard, bass guitar and electric drums.

The first album ‘A tale of two cities’ received warm press from music journalists due to it’s array of fine instruments fused with acoustic guitar and piano. The second album ‘Straight no chaser’ is earmarked for release in December. Their most recent and likely best known track is ‘Supernova’ featuring Kanye West which, when released back in august charted high. To catch a listen and learn more about Mr Hudson you can visit the official sites at http://www.mrhudson.com/ or http://www.myspace.com/mrhudson.
Calvin Harris @ The O2 academy, Birmaingham 28/10/09
When last we reviewed Calvin Harris, it was back in May at The Kasbah in Coventry. He literally blew us away on the night and we came away from the evening with bloody big grins on our faces. I commented at the time that I sensed a quantum shift taking place that would be felt upon release of the next album. So I approached this gig with wonderment at what we would get. Oh and did I mention I bloody love it when I’m right?! Calvin in May wore a tracksuit top/jeans/trainers combo and thoroughly entertained us with great tunes and good old electro beats. It was synthesiser city and he didn’t have much to say. He let his music do the talking.

The music began and after building sufficient fever pitch for 3000 drunken brummies to go mental – he made his entrance. And what an entrance he made – Trousers, black shirt white tie! New image for a new sound. He kicked off with ‘The Rain’ (Track one of the second album ‘Ready for the weekend’. A perfect track to open with, one of those happy dance tunes everyone knows the words to.

Next up was one of my personal favourites ‘Merrymaking at my place’ a classic from the first album. It is laid back yet solid and sure. I guess potentially it could be perceived as a bit naff but Mr Harris makes it work. It’s a fun song that makes you love you’re friends and want to share your Maltesers with them. Clearly on a roll with the oldies he went straight into ‘Colours’. Lets be honest it’s an average track on the album – but with the superb acoustics of the room and his synth-tastic rhythm it was a real treat to hear live. Plus I love the switch at the chorus from slow and steady to speedy and heady. Next he played ‘Stars come out’ another crowd pleaser and trademark Harris through and through.
5Calvin Harris @ The O2 academy, Birmaingham 28/10/09
It seemed at this point that what we needed was a hardcore chart hit. Enter ‘Ready for the weekend’ and boom (!) explosions of crazy brummies all around me. I got beer spilled on me five times during this song- but it was ok – twice it was me (don’t drink and jump kids). The next few songs went past me like an electro daze – and suddenly we hit ‘Acceptable in the 80s’. A superb example of what Harris does best. Here Harris paid homage to all things that have crafted our sweet nation and he did it with a nifty synth riff that gets in you’re head and refuses to budge. It doesn’t matter how many times I hear this song I still love it as much as the first time I ever heard it.

A few songs later Calvin raised the bar with his latest release ‘Flashback’. A classic example of the new direction his music has taken. What I love is that he has retained his sense of self and it’s easily recognisable as his trademark sound. Except now he presents with a new anthemic, clubbing edge that stands alongside the great dance acts like Faithless, Groove Armada and Nightmares on Wax.

Then came ‘The girls’. Did he shout that he loves those Birmingham girls? Course he did! Although I think he was being kind as we looked a rough bunch from all the jumping around! The final track of the encore remains his best offering to date: ‘I’m not alone’. This song continually blows me away with every listen. Its genius, uplifting, banging, just awesome. The lyrics are stunning and the song builds from a gentle start into a crescendo of electro house. I reckon at this point there were enough good vibes in the room to cure the world’s depression!
Calvin Harris @ The O2 academy, Birmaingham 28/10/09
Harris appears a changed man. A far cry from the relatively shy boy we saw last time. And did I mention he scrubs up bloody well? Fortunately his dancing has improved and he now leaps around throughout the entire set. What I also like about new ‘SuperCalvin’ is how chatty he has become. His level of interest in audience involvement has risen significantly and his efforts to engage the audience were not lost on our lively bunch!

One freaky thing though was the Calvin masks half the crowd were wearing on the back of their heads. Gimmicks such as this seem to follow him round (last time it was the trademark ‘fly’ sunglasses).

So in short….we love Calvin …we love drooling over him…oops I mean…. reviewing him. Long live Mr Harris and all who rave with him…and woe betide anyone who tries to remove him from the trusted synthesiser that he operates like a highly skilled surgeon. He is a surgeon of sound, deeply comfortable in his own skin – and that’s just electro-tastic baby! Celebrity rock star boyfriend 2009- it’s official – he wins our mini poll.
Calvin Harris @ The O2 academy, Birmaingham 28/10/09
Words by Sammy Allen
Photography by Kat Page

One Response to “Calvin Harris + Mr Hudson @ The 02 Academy, Birmingham UK – 29 October 2009”

  1. Tweets that mention Gig Junkies - Live Music is our Drug! » Blog Archive » Calvin Harris + Mr Hudson @ The 02 Academy, Birmingham UK - 29/10/2009 -- Topsy.com Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kat page, Kat page. Kat page said: @calvinharris Loved your Birmingham gig last week. Would love to hear what you think of our photos/review on gigjunkies! http://ow.ly/zxBk […]

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