Roots Manuva @ Birmingham HMV, 30/01/12

My Christmas Day Facebook status read “Christmas Present list: A heavily embroidered Maharishi hoodie, lots of cash, 2 bottles of rum, the Nile Rogers autobiography, aftershave I would actually wear and tickets to Roots Manuva”. I certainly did well on the last one, as tonight’s show was immense!

Over the years I have seen Roots Manuva live many times, and with several different line ups, but tonight ranked up there with one of his finest performances ever. Tonight Rodney Smith was on point, highly refined and most definitely splendid.

Roots Manuva @ Birmingham HMV, 30/01/12

Before he stepped out on stage, DJ MK was warming up the crowd with a set that had something to please everyone, from current underground US Hip Hop, through classic Tribe Called Quest tunes and into Dutty Crunk stuff. Then into Foster Sylver’s ‘Misdemeanor,’ into Men at Work ‘Dance if you want to’. Even Kraftwerk’s ‘Tour de France’ got an airing before he finally juggled two copies of New Orders ‘Blue Monday’…..Genius! This is a DJ that not only has the skills, but also a deeper musical understanding of how to rock a party.

The venue, which seemed a bit empty early doors, quickly filled, and we were pushed further and further to the front as the anticipation grew. This tour was for the album (‘4everevolution’) that was released in October last year without much hype or fuss, cited by many as his greatest release to date, yet ignored by many of the mainstream. I felt Rodney Smith had a point to prove tonight, and he did – in fact he nailed it!

Roots Manuva @ Birmingham HMV, 30/01/12

With a full band including drums, guitar, keys, bongos, MK on decks and backing vocals from Rokhsan and long time Manuva collaborator Ricky Ranking, the Roots Fi Discotheque were in town to play sound.

Stepping on stage sporting a dicky bow tie and a bowler hat, Rodney looked the perfect English Gent. The first half of the show had him showcasing the new album, kicking off with ‘Here We Go Again’ going into ‘Go Champ’, ‘Busit’, ‘First Growth’ and through the rest of the album finishing with ‘Crow Bars’. Then inevitably Rodney asked the crowd, “Birmingham, what time is it?” I amongst others knew what was coming. ‘Witness’ and, although he’s probably sick of doing it, he knows it’s what the fans want to hear. A splendid version it was too, and then it’s quickly into a medley of classics from a career that spans over 15 years including ‘Let The Spirit’, ‘Dreamy Days,’ ‘Too Cold’ and ‘Again and Again’.

Roots Manuva  @ Birmingham HMV, 30/01/12

‘Jah Warrior’ is the last track before they leave the stage, only to quickly return for the encore to perform ‘Snake Bite’, a tune that never got a vinyl release. You could buy it as an MP3, and I think the monies went to a charity – it’s been my ringtone for over a year and to hear it done live was amazing.

Then there were 15 minutes left until the 10.30 curfew, and nothing left on the set-lists taped on the stage! Time for a bit of audience participation, Rodney and Ricky asking the crowd what they wanted to hear. DJ MK provided the beats and they burst into ‘Join the Dots’ minus Chali 2na of course, followed by ‘Juggle Tings Proper” and finishing the show with a brand new sound system influenced mash out!

Roots Manuva @ Birmingham HMV, 30/01/12

All I can say is, if you get chance to catch any of the remaining shows, DO IT! Otherwise find out which festivals they are on at during the Summer and hope you get a ticket. When Rodney Smith is this on point there is no better MC in the game. Trust me!

Roots Manuva Photos by John Bentley
Roots Manuva Review by DJ Bobby Tempo

Roots Manuva @ Birmingham HMV, 30/01/12

(A big thanks from Gig Junkies to Bobby Tempo, a real Roots Manuva fan, for the review. Bobby’s monthly radio show, The Bobby Tempo Show is on staffordfm.com and you can hear his last show at Soundcloud)

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