The Forum, Hertfordshire
Daniel Stein, better known as DJ Fresh, has left an indelible impression on the night-club scene of late. Collaborations with Rita Ora, Dizzee Rascal and Rizzle Kicks remind us of his musical aptitude. His ability to create pieces that merge his style (a mixture of Dubstep with Drum and Bass) with the diverse abilities of those he works with contribute to his understandable popularity.
Traveling to The Forum (based at Hertfordshire University’s campus) for one of the performances on his current tour, I wondered how Stein would recreate former hits and produce a memorable show. We wouldn’t be seeing all the aforementioned artists and whilst students aren’t unfamiliar with Skype, I doubted this was the route he would take. With the ‘Fresh Live’ formation however, Stein (keyboards), accompanied by Kodish (drums), Richard De Rosa (guitarist), Fleur and Messy MC (vocals), addressed this query by creating an ensemble that merged well for the performance.
The most prominent members of the group were vocalists Messy MC and Fleur. Whilst the call to make the Nextlevelism triangle from Messy at the start of most songs became a tiring promotion of the album’s recent debut, after a fourth drink it simply became the interlude before more dancing and (though not for me) moshing; it’s amazing how far people can push each other in a packed environment. Messy’s rapping in The Power lacked clarity and was often overpowered by the other performers on stage which was disappointing. This was in part due to infrequent microphone dropouts, reducing his stage presence to hand movements (which some reviewers thought was a call to the sound crew to adjust his microphone). He became a stoker of the audience’s fire (not that they needed it!) and whilst this was good for prolonging the energetic atmosphere, musically he was wanting.
Without question, it was Fleur who played the star role. Her consistency to drive immense power and tonal clarity throughout the auditorium surpassed Messy. Her rendition of Hypercaine (like every other song she performed) delivered far more power than the studio version and her movement between rewrites of Flo Rida’s Good Feeling and Coldplay’s Paradise with adjusted tempos, bass lines and keyboard embellishments deserves praise.
What about DJ Fresh? He clearly isn’t the showman that his music might suggest he ought to be. One auto-tuned interjection and a few arm waves were enough for his involvement. Of course this undermines the work he’s doing on stage (though his starting keyboard work sounded like a grade one scale) and the addition of the light show and presence of the vocalists more than made up for his modest demeanor.
For a song that continues to have an extremely high play count, Louder has become a necessary evil for any night clubbing experience. Thankfully, its staleness was alleviated by De Rosa’s impressive acoustic guitar introduction. Thus, the piece that I often want to mute became an appropriate ending for the night’s entertainment.
Whilst technical difficulties with Messy’s microphone were disappointing and an addition of a bass guitarist might have added more diversity, the swimming pool-like dance floor with the mountainous landscape of cups and bottles symbolized an event that brought together good music with a good atmosphere.Fleur’s vocal renditions shone throughout the evening and the reworking of other artists merged well with Fresh’s newer material. The performance was solid, with the good elements outweighing the bad.