Exciting, nostalgic and powerfully performed
It has been 22 years since Mercury Prize-nominated electronic duo Leftfield (consisting of Paul Daley and Neil Barnes) released their legendary album Leftism. Voted one of the top 10 albums of all time, and described by Mixmag as “perhaps the best electromic album ever made,” Leftism remains current today.
Camp Bestival 2017 was the perfect setting for Leftism’s 22nd anniversary showcase - their biggest gig of the year - performed in front of an appreciative, 20,000 strong crowd who bounced along throughout their set, which featured every performer from Leftism’s original hall of fame (minus Paul Daley, who is no longer part of Leftfield) plus a couple of new additions.
During the set, Neil Barnes sang and played a variety of instruments, including guitar, wind instruments, conga drums and an Ektara – a single stringed Indian instrument that looks like a simpler version of a Sitar. Add to that at least seven synths, drum machines and controllers and it made for an exciting, nostalgic and powerfully performed show that conveyed perfection with every note.
Fully in charge and overflowing with intense concentration and occasionally jumping around and pumping his arm in the air, Barnes ensured the crowd were in for an enthralling, bass crunching, visually mind-blowing masterclass in old skool electronica. It was in one word - incredible.
The sound was outer-planetary and the atmosphere astonishing, with influences of reggae, dub and roots, jungle-infused drum and bass, tribal house and tough symphonic progressive house dominating the show.
During ‘Release the Pressure’ MC Cheshire Cat with the Dexterous Earl Sixteen rocked the stage and Neil Cole aka MC Djum Djum’s deep African rhymes left us captivated by his power on ‘Afro-Left’.
‘Bass shaking Inspection (Check One)’ began with dub adroit Danny Red grooving across the stage as he revved up the crowd and his Dancehall patois, were later joined by the formidable MC Cheshire Cat whose street style stage presence was undeniably radical.
Enchantress Tarantina mesmerised the audience with her Stevie Nicks-esque hip twisting moves and haunting vocals, replacing Toni Halliday on the first release of ‘Original’, and Ofei delivered a captivating performance, closing the show with ‘21st Century Poem’, with its poignant messages that couldn’t be more relevant today.
Leftism 22 was timeless, majestic and mesmerizing. These feelings were echoed by Q Magazine, as they asserted, “It’s hard to overestimate the significance of Leftism, roundly acknowledged upon its release in 1995 as the first truly complete album experience to be created by house musicians and the first quintessentially British one.”
At the final curtain, it was all over too soon, no matter how much the audience wanted ‘one more.’ Instead, Barnes and his team grouped together in what felt like a family shot and exited leaving us all breathless and stirred by what we had just experienced. It was an emotional moment for all dance music aficionados.
After the show, we had a chance to catch up with Neil Barnes who said, “I get contacted all the time by people that tell me how much Leftism has changed their life. It changed my life…every single track has a special moment for me, I just try to do it justice.”
Watch Destination Delicious’ interview with Neil Barnes here:
Buy Leftism 22 here.
*During Camp Bestival 2017 I was hosted by Camp Bestival. All opinions are my own.
Arts, Culture & Entertainment