Mos Def (live in Dublin)
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Mos Def (live in the Village, Dublin)
Review Snapshot: With technical difficulties and a delayed start, Mos Def needed to win over the impatient crowd in a big way. Unfortunately, due to the patchy nature of his set, this didn't happen and ultimately made for a disappointing gig.
The Cluas Verdict? 4 out of 10
9pm: I've been standing here, waiting for Mos Def to arrive, for so long that I'm expecting three Mos Def's to come along at once. I am a sweaty member of an impatient crowd waiting for things to kick off. According to our tickets, the gig is from 8-11pm, so most of us arrived about an hour ago. Three hours seemed an unlikely duration for a hiphop gig, so I was expecting a support act or at least a DJ set before Mos Def's appearance. Instead, for the past hour they've been playing what sounds like a brass band/hip-hop mix-tape over the soundsystem. It was vaguely distracting for the first half an hour but now I'm trapped in an uncomfortable full-bladdered, cold drink-craving limbo; too afraid to leave my sardine tin position for fear the mighty Mos Def will finally emerge.
10pm: The crowd begins to vocalise its impatience. The initial murmurs of dissent build to a crescendo of booing, which spreads through the venue like a disgruntled mexican wave. I join in enthusiastically.
10.45: Finally, yes finally, Mos Def emerges, citing technical difficulties for the delay. (Actually I can't hear him very well but I presume that's what he said.) The crowd are surprisingly forgiving and the boos metamorphosise into welcoming cheers. It seems the audience are determind to enjoy the show now that it is finally underway.
The show begins and the biggest crowd-pleasers seem to be from Mos Def's acclaimed 1999 album, Black on both Sides. 'Mathematics' and 'Ms. Fat Booty' go down particularly well with the audience. After rambling on about his respect for fellow artist Madlib (who is apparently at the gig) for a bit, he also showcases a brand new track called 'Auditorium'. He either says that this was inspired by Madlib or a collaboration with Madlib, but given the seriously dodgy sound quality of the ill-fated Village, I can't make out which. There is also some old school material in the form of a track by BlackStar, his early collaboration with fellow hip-hop artist, Talib Kweli.
His performance of these tracks is energetic and the crowd is responsive. However the overall gig is far less than the sum of its parts, making it difficult to fully enjoy. The flow of the set is interrupted by random accapella warblings and intermittent DJ sets. Don't get me wrong, his DJ is playing some great tunes. Marvin Gaye's 'What's going on', for one, is a fantastic track. If I heard it on an average night out, I'd be more than happy. It's just that, after paying to see Mos Def, I was expecting to hear, well, Mos Def tracks. As though sensing the crowds' impatience, he lanches into a particularly stirring rendition of 'Umi says'. It is certainly a gig highlight, but coming so close to the end of the set, it is simply a case of too little, too late.
12.30: An unusually subdued audience obediently files out of The Village to the welcoming cool air outside. Expectations were high and due to problems with the quality of the venue and Mos Def's patchy performance, this gig simply failed to deliver. The general atmosphere on leaving the gig is one of resigned disappointment.
Máire T Robinson