Gig Review: Shabazz Palaces – The Deaf Institute
If you’ve not seen Shabazz Palaces before, without even knowing you I can confirm, it is definitely your kind of stuff. You’ll know what I mean after you’ve seen them live, trust me.
We walk into the Deaf institute with just about enough room to fit into view of the stage – it’s packed. The venue it’s self is setup as a music obsessed theatre complete with a wall of speakers from the decades behind the bar, a planetary disco globe and the stage is dressed with red velvet curtains and the wall paper is enough to make any interior design expert swoon.
One half of Shabazz Palaces, Ishmael Butler (Palaceer) hits a perfect cross between Seu Jorge/Steve Zissou and Monkey Magic… red beanie and blue judo ghee. With the sway and bounce of the crowd in front, if being an MC was a martial art, this guy would be 10th dan, floating on a cloud and plucking hair from his own chest. Varied, controlling, mesmerising. The other half of the triphop duo, Tendai Maraire, surrounds himself with the most complete bongos, steel drum and toms combo to keep the beats analogue.
The opposite side of the stage cuts loops, beats and synth digital, dorn with space sunglasses for the show majority. The mix of the two creates a meandering metronome of fresh swells and rapids. Vocally, the MC’s are dropped in all manners of likenesses from Tribe Called Quest and Snoop Dogg (read lion), to all the tones in between, curating a completely unique style and presence.
The tempo is expectedly changeable throughout the gig and the crowd are tested with unexpected and comfortable silences mid track and off beat, which fitted with the set and also positively disrupted the flow. One thing Shabazz Palaces are not is ‘the norm’. They are well against that ‘norm’ which might make other gigs easier to follow, groove to and reflect on. It’s a busy set with visuals on a backdrop flipping between tribal dancing to breakdance and dancehall. Loops on ghetto blasters matched with mixing live samples and on analog synths, then on top being hypnotised by psychedelic motion potion scenes and galactic treadmill journeys to add to the depth. The visuals are synced and they flow with the change of beat just as well, like they’ve been compiled and put on loop.
“My life today is changing, so many days need rearranging” push the mantra filled hiphop into a huge reverb filled vocal intro, packing lots of soul. “Thank you very much, the fine people of Manchester, let’s come together to the other side …”
There’s something otherworldly of Shabazz Palaces with their latest album offering, ‘Quazarz: Born on a Gangster Star’ and it’s companion ‘Quarzarz vs. The Jealous Machines’ – of all the tracks played ‘Shine a light’ receives the highest appreciation and this has a montage visual backing which drops scenes of same sex partnerships and liberal life.
Shabazz Palaces brought the ‘Quazarz…’ to Manchester’s Deaf Institute, the crowd admired and delivered the groove and if it was missed, it can now only be read about. To manage your pain buy the album and ‘Come Over To The Otherside’.