Roni Size/Reprazent have accomplished what seemed impossible: translating highly polished studio music into a powerful, live drum-and-bass show.
It was one thing when the Bristol-based collective captured the Mercury Music Prize (the Brit equivalent of the Grammy's Album of the Year award) for 1997's slick, beat-driven, debut album, New Forms. It was quite another when the group hit the road with a show that energized audiences without sacrificing attention to their precious keyboards and DAT machines.
The octet is a performance powerhouse. Mastermind Size and co-producers Krust, Suv and DJ Die mesh the breakbeats, digital fills and effects with drummer Si John and bassist Rob Merrill's steady jazz rhythms. Spurred on by those surging instrumentals, Dynamite MC and vocalist Onallee take front stage, pumping up the crowd.
Now imagine how out-of-control Reprazent might be on this tour. On the latest album, In the Mode, the beats are faster and harder, and the vocals—which once played a supporting role—have moved out front, with songs like Dynamite's menacing "Who Told You" and Onallee's soulful "Lucky Pressure."
Size has said his goal with this second release was to make music for that most intimate and demanding of listening venues—the automobile—while considering which mixes would transfer best to live performances. Upping the ante, the collective has promised this tour will be 100 percent sample-free. While keeping so many band members in sync without the use of sampling seems as hectic as corralling herds of mice in Sega's wildly popular ChuChu Rocket, Size has promised that everyone knows his (or, in Onallee's case, her) role. This show, which kicks off the group's North American tour, is a sign of good things to come, not only for Reprazent but also for more live drum-and-bass in OC.
RONI SIZE/REPRAZENT PERFORM AT THE ANAHEIM HOUSE OF BLUES, 1530 S. DISNEYLAND DR., ANAHEIM, (714) 778-2583. THURS., MARCH 1, 8 P.M. $22.50. ALL AGES.
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