Biko Live – Club Academy, Manchester. 13/10/2010

Review by Rick Sims

In the depths of the basement at The University of Manchester’s Union, a night called Biko Live rumbles and shakes. Previously having held the phenomenal Melodica, Melody & Me, Indian Bangra dancers, a clothes swap shop, it continues to house things fantastic and eclectic – this time it includes various insane art installations and workshops. The line up does not disappoint: Bangra! the University’s jazz orchestra, Extra Curricular, and the inspiring artist that I am here to see, Homecut.

Homecut delivers a citrus fresh and incandescent rhythmic performance, so dynamic and versatile that we very soon become aware that the privilege of this kind in such a small venue is a rare opportunity. 

The debut album, No freedom Without Sacrifice -featuring collaborations with the genius that is Soweto Kinch, Corinne Bailey Rae, J-Live, The rising temptress Andreya Triana (check her out at Matt & Phreds on Saturday) and members of the Cinematic Orchestra – is a year young on First World Records.

Now, if you judge a man by the company he keeps, then Homecut, and especially front man Testament, are already in a position to speak and answer for the expectations. The sound from the album is chilled out hip-hop, and this is what I am expecting. I liken my situation to waiting for a bus that you don’t have the cash to get on (you know what’s gonna happen), however gleaming, the bus driver presents you with a round the world ticket and some blue suede shoes.

Halfway in, Hip-hop artist and creative director of the contact theatre, Baba-Israel, steps up to the stage with a versatile wit that is almost a final will, and Testament doesn’t disappoint to the rise. It feel like this show wouldn’t be repeatable, but the size of the venue hints that there is more control than meets the ears.

Speaking to Testament after the show I stumble like a grinning teenage girl (with a beard) and ask him how he maintains the energy: “You gotta love what you do”, he replies. An incredible show and I am left feeling addled and confused if they aren’t among the main acts at festivals next year. The evening finishes with Extra Curricular, and the big sound from these guys is matched by a stage presence to follow Homecut.


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