Photography: Michael Kirkham /

Abstract Orchestra plays Madvillainy

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  • Nelson
Liverpool Music Week @ 24 Kitchen Street 29/10/17

24 Kitchen Street plays host to an unusual interpretation of, arguably, one of the greatest albums of all time, as ABSTRACT ORCHESTRA take on Madvilliainy. Hip hop is usually two people, a mic and some decks, but here it’s 12 on stage, accompanied by flutes, trombones and drums. There aren’t enough commas to do it justice.

But before the stage fills, we have NELSON. He appears before No Fakin’ DJs’ booth, and with a quick military manoeuvre turns the crowd around. A local MC who doesn’t shy away from this with a faux accent, which is sadly too common among non-American artists. He starts us off slow, rapping over a meandering jazz beat. This is hip hop at its purest; personal stories with a blend of social commentary. Keen to show off his flow, each successive track kicks up the tempo and Nelson keeps up. Topping the already impressive set, he chooses to spit over the best beat on Madvillainy; Fancy Clown. It’s a personal favourite, and the cheers from the crowd suggest it’s a fan favourite too. With his set finished he melts back into the crowd, waiting alongside for Abstract Orchestra.

Abstract Orchestra Plays Madvillainy Image 2

Now full disclosure: Doom, Madlib and their many pseudonyms dominate my favourite artists list. I would have loved this gig regardless, yet it’s with their opening track – Beef Rap from Doom’s solo album Mm.. Food – that I know the rest of the crowd feels the same

Rob Mitchell, Abstract Orchestra’s de facto leader, takes us on an epic tour through MF DOOM and Madlib’s 2004 masterpiece. MC Jefferson adds his own verses to the tracks, in between watching the band in awe along with the crowd. Occasionally they stray from Madvilliany, taking in some of Doom and Madlib’s solo material, but, whatever they’re playing, it’s evident how much the band are enjoying it. The flautists switch to sax, treating us to ridiculous solos. Clearly they have to go full jazz at least once. The whole band is grinning.

Abstract Orchestra provide ample evidence for the perfect match that is hip hop and jazz tonight. This is hip hop music come full circle. Best gig of the year? You bet.

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