wed 23/10/2019

Chase & Status, Brighton Centre | reviews, news & interviews

Chase & Status, Brighton Centre

Chase & Status, Brighton Centre

Drum & bass stars work Brighton into a lather

Status, Rage, Chase, and a nice cup of tea

“Show Me Love” by Robin S was a monster pop-rave crossover hit in 1990. Most of the crowd at Chase & Status’s Brighton date would have either not been born or in nappies gnawing Duplo bricks when it had its moment in the sun, yet they sing along en masse and roar approval as the band’s female diva, Moko, belts it out, jumping around in precariously stacked heels.

That she follows it with the band’s most recent hit, “Count On Me”, and it sounds as if both were recorded at the same time, drives home a point: on the radio, via their hits, Chase & Status could be perceived as a cheesy amalgam of their underground drum & bass origins and blatant chart-pop, but in concert their show is an engaging distillation of rave history, dipping a toe into multiple styles in succession. Their crowd, teens and twenties with a sprinkling of grizzled older ravers (such as me), have banished genre tribalism and veer comfortably between everything from a battering assault on Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name” to deep throbbing house.

Waves of almost physical bass send the sold out capacity venue into a demented  parody of the Status Quo head-banging dance

The stage set-up has Saul “Chase” Milton and Will “Status” Kennard at keyboards on two podiums, lit with a giant “C” and “S” respectively. The former occasionally – and somewhat bashfully – leaves his post and dons an electric guitar. Between them drummer Andy Gangadeen perches at an enormous prog-style kit that looks like a victory shrine from one of the Predator films, a giant circular screen looming over him where absent guest vocalists pop up on film to sing their contributions. The stage front, meanwhile, is dominated by MC Rage, who prowls up and down inciting the crowd in a manner similar to Maxim Reality of The Prodigy (the band on whose shows Chase & Status have closely modelled theirs).

Chase & Status’s latest album, Brand New Machine, is their best, a moodier beast than its predecessors, more willing to experiment and spiced with upbeat moments that pastiche prime 1991-92 breakbeat rave tunes. They draw from it extensively during the first half of their set, opening with the ragamuffin skank of “International”, turning “Gangster Boogie” into an abrasive heavy metal headbanger with MC Knytro spitting lyrics over the top, and allowing the boombastic cocaine-paranoid hoover-step of “Machine Gun” its full sonic weight.

The most OTT dubstep moment, however, is 2008’s “Eastern Jam”, a breakthrough tune which originally drew the attention of Snoop Dogg and other US artists, eventually resulting in the duo regularly contributing to Rihanna’s albums. In the flesh it’s an absolute monster, waves of almost physical bass sending the sold out 4500 capacity venue into a demented 21st-century parody of the Status Quo head-banging dance. Another highlight is the vicious relationship breakdown number “Pieces” which features Plan B on the giant screen and has an effective explosive construction, as is “Fool Yourself”, an even more ballistically furious Plan B collaboration with which they conclude their two-song encore.

There was an overlong section of their cheesier fare towards the end, weak pop-rock songs over a drum & bass beat but, given that these include some of their biggest hits - such as “Let You Go” and “Time” – it was to be expected and the main body of the crowd lapped them up. Also, it gave them a chance to let rip with their rave nostalgia anthem “Blind Faith”, a stadium epic that encapsulates their appeal - essence of rave served up with added sugar - and I admit that, by the end of it, even the more grizzled club veterans found their hands being drawn euphorically upwards into the air.

Overleaf: watch the video for "Count On Me"

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