In light of recent events, Nathan Davies walks us through the troubled history of The Rainbow Pub and Blackbox and explains the recent closure's impacts on BirminghamWritten by Nathan Davies on 17th December 2018
Live Review: Warehouse Project- Bonobo Presents: Outlier
Deputy Editor Issy Campbell sees Bonobo, Gilles Peterson and more at the Warehouse Project's new venue, the Mayfield Depot
With the announcement earlier last year that this would be the last year of Warehouse Project in the now iconic Store Street venue, many people have been left wondering where the team would take it next. Last week’s event however may have shown us a glimpse of what’s to come as Bonobo headlined the Mayfield Depot for a night filled with synths, euphoric electronica and all-round good vibes.
The mystery of this unknown venue definitely added to the excitement of the evening. As we arrived at the entrance, there seemed to be a good system in place, with multiple lanes for ticket scanning and security checks which got everyone out of the cold and into the venue that bit quicker - something the Store Street venue struggles with as the queue is completely outside. Once you were through, you could head straight into what could be described as the ‘chill out’ area, with a long bar, benches and even some worn sofas, really adding to that urban edge that WHP is all about. Even after looking at that space, nothing could have prepared me for just how huge the main (and only) room was going to be. If you can cast your mind back to the short-lived days of The Crane, Mayfield Depot is around the same length, but a lot wider. However, the space wasn’t completely empty and there was evidence of the venue's old railway days, with an abandoned platform situated in the left-hand corner. There were also two bars either side of the room and two massive toilet blocks hosting female and male portaloos. All of this meant the room was not able to fill its 7,500 capacity. That being said, it was still ridiculously squished and at times this affected the overall feel of the night as it was easy to become frustrated or separated from your friends which just distracted you from the music.
“If you cast your mind back to the short-lived days of The Crane, Mayfield Depot is around the same length, but a lot wider
Arriving just after 6, the first DJ I caught was Gilles Peterson. At this point it wasn’t massively busy and we were able to walk right to the front and dance with plenty of space. Gilles was accompanied on stage by an MC of sorts, who provided live vocals during the set. This really provided another element to his performance, which was already layered with lots of other technical components. There is a reason why Gilles is a legend in the world of dance music; he knows exactly what to play, when to play it and doesn’t miss a single beat. He played a variation of music, ranging from the funky ‘Cancan de momento’ to some disco and house and even some old school throwbacks like Destiny’s Child and a remix of Outkast’s ‘SpottieOttieDopaliscious’. A feel-good set perfect for getting early party goers in the mood.
Taking to the stage next was George FitzGerald. There is no denying that George is talented or that he makes amazing songs and can perform them all live pretty flawlessly too, but I felt he just slightly missed the mark. To his credit, live performances require a bit more patience on the crowd’s behalf as each song needs to be built up from scratch, and perhaps this was just a tad too limiting for the evening. I found his performance of ‘Full Circle’ fell flat, and his other original songs just didn’t sound as punchy live as they do when you hear the produced version, including ‘Burns’, which he ended on.
Palms Trax was next up. Having seen him at Bestival last summer, he blew me away and I was hoping he’d bring the same energy to Manchester. Luckily for us, he absolutely delivered, providing the best set of the night. His second hour was definitely better than his first, but only because the track selection grew stronger and stronger. The fusion of his electronic synths and funky rhythms made for the perfect balance between some heavier trance-like beats and his softer soulful sounds, allowing you to not feel overwhelmed or in need of a break. This is crucial in a place like Mayfield, because you cannot escape to another room of music. But Palms Trax’s set didn’t leave me with any of these issues. Highlights from his set include a remix of Lumidelic’s ‘Awakening Dreams’ as well as Johannes Albert’s ‘Fountain of Youth’, which has been played a lot by the likes of Hunee and Gerd Janson.
“The fusion of (Palms Trax's) electronic synths and funky rhythms made for the perfect balance between some heavier trance-like beats and his softer soulful sounds
The crowd was definitely buzzing off the back of Palms Trax’s set, which meant the atmosphere was electric for Bonobo. He took to the stage just after midnight opening with ‘Bambro Koyo Ganda’ which was as expected, extremely well received by the crowd. He followed this with O’Flynn’s ‘Tru Dancing’, a massively popular hit at the moment. His first hour continued in this exceptional form, with other songs like ‘It’s a sunshine (Unit 2 remix)’ as well as KiNK’s ‘Existence’ and Mella Dee’s ‘Techno Disco Tool’ which really got the crowd going. He also played a lot of his own songs, including ‘Spotlight’ which I enjoyed as often DJs don’t play enough of their own work. Unfortunately, as the night went on, I found set became rather slow. I don’t think it was just that it was nearing the end of the night, but I found the track selection was just falling flat of the mark which really impacted the flow of his set. But, the atmosphere wasn’t too badly damaged and the crowd was extremely receptive to his closing track and most famous song ‘Kerala’. This brought the evening to a really fantastic close, with a sea of arms up in the air.
“Here's to the future of WHP, it’s still never let me down
Overall, this perhaps wasn’t my favourite WHP to date, but it was the first to take place in Mayfield, which, although only a temporary stage at the moment, could become the newest host to these iconic club nights. For me, this was not the right venue for this exact event – I feel it would have fitted more into the Store Street venue, or somewhere slightly smaller. Where Mayfield would come into its own would be events like Paradise, or hosting the biggest names in Techno like Eric Prydz. But, here’s to the future of WHP, it has still never let me down.