On the back of his second full studio album, the versatile and sought after jazz drummer (although it’s unfair to simply label him as such) Richard Spaven came to Band on the Wall with support from Hunrosa and Stuart McCallum. An evening of smooth grooves and even some classic hip-hop covers, Spaven showed us all exactly why he’s in such high demand.
The Self, which heavily features the soulful voice of Jordan Rakei amongst others, sees Spaven explore the worlds of drum ‘n’ bass, dubstep and broken beat and re-home them into the realm of jazz. The albums titular single, The Self, hits home with 140bpm – as does much of the album, leaving us searching for Spaven’s inner pendulum as he effortlessly rides over spectral, melancholy grooves.
Spaven has gained international recognition over the years after working with the likes of Jose James, Flying Lotus, Gregory Porter and The Cinematic Orchestra, to name a few; as well as featuring heavily on the airwaves through Giles Peterson, Mary Anne and Benji B.
Stuart McCallum, a Manchester based guitarist and composer, opened the night with a dreamy acoustic set, which sounded more like a sitar than anything. Among his tracks he played Clear Fog and The Filler, telling the audience of how he used to live in Withington – Manchester’s student hub – and watch the ducks “in a haze”. Perhaps such hazy daydreaming is what led to McCallum producing such hypnotic sounds as he live-looped riffs, beats and melodies throughout his set, playing back his music in real time before playing over it.
Hunrosa, aka Cornish electronic music producer Sam Vicar, was joined on stage by Alice Higgins on vocals and supported by instrumentalists Sam Gardner and Livie Gheorghe. Some new, unheard tracks were played and the audience was invited to close their eyes for one which featured Hunrosa’s musical samples from his time in India. Hunrosa has new material coming out soon to be released by record label Wah Wah 45s.
Richard Spaven then took to the stage, accompanied by Robin Mullarkey and supporting act Stuart McCallum playing alongside him. The great thing about seeing Spaven live is that although he is the main spectacle of the performance, he doesn’t overshadow the rest of the act. His drumming perfectly glides along with the other instrumentalists and makes for a great live show.
Spaven spoke of his love and nostalgia for the city of Manchester, and Band on The Wall in particular, having played there many years ago before BOTW’s refurbishment and redecoration in 2009. He said you could feel the history “in the walls” of the venue before delving into his tracks Law, Effigy, and Alfama, all of which he said were written in Manchester.
The crowd were also treated to a few covers of some of Spaven’s favourite classic jazz and hip-hop records. This included an electrifying cover of A Tribe Called Quest’s Electric Relaxation, Show Me What You Got by J Dilla and a reworked Pharaoh Sanders track. These covers showed not only Spaven’s skill and versatility as a drummer but also his wide-reaching influences in his own music.
Although Jordan Rakei was not present (many in the crowd held on to slim hopes of a surprise visit from the vocalist) Spaven delivered an excellent show of some of his latest tracks, as well as some tasty covers for good measure. A versatile and exciting drummer, it will be interesting to see where Spaven’s percussion will take him next.