jeudi, octobre 14, 2004

Fatboy Slim

DJ rediscovers the old punk rush - and heals his split personality

First Night: Fatboy Slim. Northumbria University Newcastle

14 October 2004

Whether bringing 250,000 people to his home town of Brighton for a free beach party or rocking student venues like this, Norman "Fatboy Slim" Cook's ability to deliver crowd-pleasing party DJ sets is renowned. Less successful, however, has been his recording career, with sales dwindling with each new album and singles often only saved from the bargain bins by their wisely chosen accompanying video.

Inevitably, the gulf between DJ sets and album outings has grown ever wider. Indeed, the almost schizophrenic career paths of the two sides of Fatboy can be seen to epitomise the dichotomy facing the dance music industry. Sure, people still want to dance, but they no longer want to buy the album.

No surprise then that just as the famed Brighton beach party was breaking all records for a one-day rave (and bringing Brighton to its grubby knees in the process) so the last Fatboy Slim album Halfway Between The Gutter And The Stars, could be found in huge quantities at the local Asda, knocked down to £2.99.

So, where is this fortysomething dance music fanatic to go to when the divide between his two worlds has grown so wide that he could park a convoy of big beats between them? The answer is backwards.

With his latest album Palookaville, Norman Cook has rediscovered the punk and psycho-billy sounds that made him pogo as a teenager. By employing a live and raw band for his recordings he's reignited his tired old dance sound with an exciting older punk rush, narrowing the gap between the genres in the process. Nothing new here of course. Dance producers have long attempted the cross-generational fusion of punk and dance music. But with Norman you get the feeling that this is the music he's always wished he could release.

Forget his jazz punk forays with Freak Power, or the arms-in-the-air cheesy house anthems of his Pizza Man guys. Forget too the big beats of Fatboy Slim of old. This newer version has no sense of youth-grabbing desperation about it.

It's the sound of a man come to terms with his receding hairline, expanding midriff and approaching midlife crisis. Tonight that cavern between album and performance finally shows signs of being narrowed as Norman dons his bass guitar for the first time since his days in leftie Indie-pop outfit The Housemartins to join support band Jonny Quality in renditions of Palookaville stand-out tracks "Long Way From Home", "Push And Shove" and "Wonderful Night".

As Jonny Quality offer their rendition of current Fatboy Slim single "Dot Dash Slash" Norman makes his way to the decks, arms aloft with triumph.

For the hardcore dance fans however, the DJ-meets-live-band sound clash is little more than a diversion. Naturally Norman delivers exactly what you would expect from a seasoned pro, his patented fusion of house, disco, hip-hop and break beats turning this little corner of the north east into an NYC block party.

If the theme of the evening is bridging the divide, the biggest irony comes with the stage set-up. Norman is raised on a DJ podium in the middle of the hall. The band strut their stuff on stage. The genres may blend perfectly but the two worlds still seem forever separate.

Martin James

©2004 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd. All rights reserved

2 comments:

Nef a dit…

I linked you... on the english blog.... Sir yes sir...

Joe el Misterioso a dit…

merci, ma douce, merci...