SBTRKT – XOYO 4th October 2011

SBTRKT’s stage setup is surprisingly modest. Just a drum kit, two microphones and a rack of synths in front of a cloth bearing a simple image of the mask he’s become synonymous with.

For someone who has made one of the finest electronic albums of the year, SBTRKT himself is surprisingly modest as well; he genuinely thanks the intimate venue’s crowd for coming and laughs graciously when his equipment dies during an aborted attempt to recreate his remix of Radiohead’s Lotus Flower.

His show is a curious mixture of technical wizardry and live drums and vocals, the latter provided by Sampha, whose soulful delivery was so key to the success and appeal of SBTRKT’s eponymous LP and is as sweetly soulful in the flesh as on record.

The set starts gently, slipping into the minimal Hold On, gets into its raucous stride with Living Like I Do and the deep soul of Trials of the Past and by the time the pair are joined on stage by vocalist Roses Gabor for Pharoahs, we’ve definitely reached full-on party mode.

She may not be in attendance tonight, but Little Dragon’s Yukimi Nagano still has a good go at stealing the show, the vocals she lent to Wildfire proving the night’s highlight as it gets an extra-heavy airing, Drake’s rhyming included:

Live drums aren’t a staple of these types of shows and it’s them that really makes tonight feel different, like much more than a button-pushing, knob-twiddling re-creation of a record. Sampha lets loose on a cowbell, they fire off samples and thump drums. It’s a riot, and the record is given a proper injection of life. This is how these shows should be done.

An encore of Right Thing To Do levels the dancefloor with its dubwise bassline turned up to eleven and with another heartfelt “thank you” they’re gone; the stage so alive a moment ago, holds just a drum kit, two microphones and a rack of synths in front of a cloth.

Thanks to XOYO’s in-house photographer Phil Smithies for the great image.