To really WOW a crowd, vocalists must meet certain requirements: they must have talent, an exceptional set of lungs and the ability to know when to use restraint and when to let loose.
The last ingredient is presentation, and British hyper-crooner, Jamie Liddell, in his slick northern soul getup, proved that he has mastered all of these. Liddell’s recent turn towards Stevie Wonder-style wailing sounded great on stage, his four-piece bar band crunching up the execution to give his sunny sound a jagged edge. Dressed smartly in striped pants and back-and-white wingtips, Liddell worked the crowd without pandering to them, while the sax player, donning only a gold robe, slippers and beard, whipped out clarinets, vocoders, and even more saxes for an added funky blast on tracks like "Figured Me Out.”
The bassist kept time in a white one-piece that wouldn’t be out of place in Evil Knevel’s closet, but soon he and the rest of the band stepped aside as Liddell approached his samplers. There he made loop after loop of his own vocals and beatboxing until soon after an army of Jamie Liddell voices were swirling through the speakers. I had heard of these solo sampler numbers at live shows, but had heard he wasn’t doing them any more and was afraid I would miss out. Nope. I got my dose.
Here the dichotomy of Jamie Liddell was the most apparent. On one side, you have the sunny pop and soul of Stevie, Otis Redding, and their contemporaries. On the other, you have the glitch and thump of Liddell's labelmate, Aphex Twin at Warp records. And now I know what you’re thinking: “There is absolutely no way these two can work together.” All I can say is you gotta see it to believe it. The gap between these two genres is massive, but the transition was so smooth yet so sudden that it took me a minute to realize dwhat had happened. It was hard to fathom that all of those clickety-clacks and squelching thumps had originated in his voice before he processed them, but I had watch him build it myself.
Eyes closed, veins bulging, Liddell kept wailing, adding his live voice to the melee’ for nearly 10 minutes before Mr. Gold Robe and company returned to the stage and brought him back to Earth with the tunes “Little Bit of Feelgood” and “Wait for Me.” But instead of retaining the electronic edge, Liddell left the electronics and dropped right back into band mode. Again, the shift was jarring (from German techno underground to Welsh wedding band?) but Liddell didn’t blink. Who says white boys have no soul?
photo by Yoshitaka
Reported by Jason Jenkins (2008.07.25 / 20:50)