Having released their last album way back in 2015, it came as a bit of a surprise to see Rudimental touring the UK. However, after recent single ‘Let Me Live’ and announcing at their gig that there’s a new album on the way, it made a lot more sense. Known for their mix of RnB, house and drum & bass mashed together in a positive pop format, the London group were powerhouses a few years ago with hits such as ‘Waiting All Night’ and ‘Lay It All On Me’. Now they are making their big return with a UK tour, which stopped off at Sheffield’s O2 Academy.
The venue was completely sold out and the crowd’s age range varied from young teens to 60-year-olds (predominantly middle-aged Capital FM-listening mums though). It’s no surprise that the age bracket was higher with tickets priced at £30. The lights went out and then came back on in an overwhelming array of colour as the group came onstage. Before they even started, it was impressive to behold the ensemble of elements that make up Rudimental. Three choir vocalists, including pop star Ella Henderson, a synth deck captained by a man wearing a ridiculous colourful LED hat and robes, a bassist, saxophonist, drummer, DJ, trumpets as well as the lead singers – who change alternatively depending on the song. Whatever your opinion of the group, they perform real music, which is refreshing in the modern age of do-it-on-a-laptop pop music.
Rudimental went through their catalogue playing all of their big hits. Certain songs were performed exceptionally well. ‘Not Giving In’ was incredible because of the use of live saxophone. Using live instruments rather than just playing on them over record adds a depth to the live experience which was definitely felt. Not only that but the group use several different singers throughout their set for different songs. Each one added something new to the performance and each voice was spectacular, particularly Ella Henderson, who belted out her vocals.
Encore ‘Feel The Love’ also popped, reminding myself and the rest of the crowd how good that song actually is. It also epitomised the tone of the night. Positive energy and happiness oozed from the group, who were beaming with smiles the whole set. Front man DJ Locksmith shouted “Feel free” as the group boasted a spirit of multi-race, cross-gender equality saying it doesn’t matter “how ugly or pretty you are, how tall or short you are, how black or white you are, we’re all equal.”
The songs they played from the new album fell flatter with the crowd, as they inevitably would, but their new reggae sound is something I am looking forward to. Unfortunately, the sound system at the O2 did them no favours either. Every time their songs went to drop there was a lack of oomph in the bass which is needed for dance acts. However, this didn’t stop the mums in the crowd from getting their groove on.
Image: Drew De F Fawkes