FKJ + Dabeull at O2 Ritz, Manchester, UK – 19th February 2019

Posted by Bianca on Tuesday Feb 19, 2019 Under Electronica

Review + Photography by John McEvoy

Tuesday night in Manchester saw the coming together of an exponent of 80’s style Funk in the shape of French musician Dabeull and the dazzling musicianship of one man band FKJ (French Kiwi Juice) in the Manchester Ritz which was packed to rafters to catch one of his four dates in the UK as part of his European and US tour running right through to May 19.

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First up was Dabeull (David Said) a French musician and artist. He’s known for his love of 80’s funk, think Zapp meets D Train, and you’ll have an idea of what’s on offer. From the start, the deep laid back groove of his current offering ‘Do It’ instantly grabbed the audience’s attention and anyone who uses a Talk box is always going to get my vote as far as I’m concerned. For 30 minutes The Ritz became the coolest place in Manchester as they moved to Dabeull’s offerings, many of which came from his single album to date ‘Indastudio’ released in Dec 17. If like me you love your funk 80’s style, you really should look him up. I for one will certainly be keeping an eye out for his first solo tour.

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FKJ, French Kiwi Juice or to use his real name Vincent Fenton is a seriously talented 27 year old French musicianship who does it all! Keyboard, Guitar, Vocal, Saxophone, Drum Machine and he’s also a master at loop building, and to top it all off he also has a killer voice. In short, he is sickeningly talented!

His style has been described as ‘New French House’ but to be honest that would be to do him a disservice. His style whilst undoubtedly contains House, funk and soul elements, also brings classical components to his show along with impressive visuals. Tonight’s show was part of a date UK mini tour taking in Glasgow, Manchester Bristol and London, before heading off to the US to gig extensively.

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Has to be said right from the off that shooting his set was a challenge to say the least. For the first three tracks a huge 3 part silk screen was lowered to the edge of the stage so this photographer was reduced to ducking under to try and get a few shots. From halfway back in the crowd the visual were really effective and perfectly complimented the music FKJ was delivering via the arsenal of keyboards and guitars that he was surrounded by. He certainly works hard as he spends much of his time leaping across the stage from one instrument to the next, whilst building up an orchestra of mesmerising deep grooves. Once satisfied he would then overlay it with his distinctive almost ethereal vocals.

To date he has released one album ‘FKJ’ in early 2017 and this set was largely made up of tracks from it including some new material. ‘We aint Feeling Time’ with its slow swing beat overlaid with vocals and Sax break done live was a rapturously received by the audience. ‘Skyline’ was a slow burner with FKJ skilfully building up the bass heavy loops into a masterful keyboard mellow house track.

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Highlights for me were the wonderful ‘Lying Together Interlude’ and main track of the same name. This gave him an opportunity to showcase his keyboard skills backed with looped ‘Oh Baby’ vocals which gradually morphed into a sublime funky house workout with FKJ delivering a lead bassline to great effect. Naturally the crowd did what was expected and broke into a huge dance workout. Tuesday night in Manchester has never been so good.

‘Why are there Boundaries’ was a slow almost bluesy track again featuring his distinctive vocals and ‘Vibin’ Out with (((O)))’ with mellow vocals from June Marieezy had the crowd in the chillout zone. Sax work went into overdrive on ‘Canggu’ ably backed up with a mellotron keyboard and Hip Hop beat, and this perfectly showcased just how good this guy really is.

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All in all, this was a perfect night for lovers of funky deep house and smooth electro. The fact that this packed out venue for an artist who clearly knows how to knock together a great tune, is testament to someone who is very much at the top of their game and this was a 90 minute set was the perfect showcase for FKJ.

If you get chance to catch him live in the future I would urge you to go. I don’t think you will regret it.

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