British electronic music duo Basement Jaxx are back baby, and in a big way.
Best known for early noughties club hits such as ‘Where’s Your Head At’ and ‘Do Your Thing’, the double Brit and Grammy Award-winners teamed up with Sydney’s The Metropolitan Orchestra to deliver a very different take on some of their most well-known tunes.
When they took to the stage at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre's Concert Hall (18 April), Basement Jaxx delivered a phenomenally fun show, complete with a ballerina, didgeridoo player and a children’s choir.
This isn’t the first time the duo – Felix Buxton and Simon Ratcliffe – have taken this approach; in 2011, they did a now-legendary collaboration with Netherland’s Metropole Orkest.
Buxton and Ratcliffe have updated the show, and even commissioned new works specifically for this Australian run.
Although the idea behind a classical-contemporary team up has, let’s face it, been done before, Basement Jaxx take the concept further than your dad’s '70s London Symphony Orchestra ‘Classic Rock’ record.
With not a DJ deck in sight, both members of the duo actually played in the orchestra; Ratcliffe was on guitar and Buxton did percussion and back-up vocals.
The Metropolitan Orchestra were, needless to say, the stars, bringing depth and a certain magic to the dancefloor hits. Importantly, it was more than just a token re-working of tracks; the aggressive groove of ‘Red Alert’, for instance, was replaced by an ominous string-driven instrumental with operatic vocals.
What’s more, the Orchestra all seemed to be having a genuinely good time – there was more than one violinist having a little seat-dance as they played – which lightened the mood in what could have become a dreary atmosphere.
The audience was made up of raver and dance-music enthusiasts of yesteryear, now all grown up and maybe ready for something a bit more mature; but that didn’t stop them from jumping up to boogie whenever a remotely dance-able tune came up.
Vocalists Lisa Kekaula, Sharlene Hector and Vula Malinga stole the show, whipping up the crowd for tracks like ‘Romeo’ and ‘Do Your Thing’. Hector, in particular, lent an unforgettably haunting tone to ‘My Turn’. All long-time Basement Jaxx collaborators, it was amazing to see them in their element, delivering a powerful performance.
All three wore Elizabethan-style costumes which, when paired with seventeen-year-old ballerina Claire Zalunardo’s alien-like moves, delivered an almost Baz Luhrmann-esque visual effect.
ARIA Award-winning Kalkadunga man William Barton performed a ‘Didgeridoo Waltz’, one of the pieces written especially for this run of shows, as well as a song in his native tongue.
One of the highlights of the night was a local children’s choir brought out to sing ‘Where’s Your Head At’, complete with dance moves. It was cute in the extreme and an interesting reimagining of Basement Jaxx’s most well-known track. But unfortunately their tiny voices were slightly overpowered by the Orchestra.
In all, it was an over-the-top show by an over-the-top act, and in a format that the now grown-up retired ravers of the '90s could enjoy. Best of all, it was all done and dusted by 10pm.