Live Review: Gilles Peterson, Romare, Auntie Flo & Werkha at Oval Space


The shutters of Oval Space are open; allowing the diminishing sun to creep in through huge glass windows spread across the warehouse’s west side. Views such as these are a rarity, so I happily take it in whilst waiting for beers. Behind me, Werkha & his live band (consisting of a cellist, violinist, drummer, long time vocal collaborator Bryony Jarman & Tom Leah (aka Werkha) himself predominantly on synth and bass guitar) are busily setting up equipment and microphones. An air of expectation is palpable in the crowd, who’ve already had the pleasure of roots from rising star Tudor Lion and his self-professed mentors Channel One Sound System with more contemporary focused selections as more people filtered in.

Once the band got underway they don’t disappoint, Leah leading proceedings through signature synth work which has the crowd eating from the palm of his hand. New material from his recent debut Colours of a Red Brick Raft was performed flawlessly – a highlight being a ‘Shunya bass solo jam’ of ‘Dim The Light‘, but old material was also represented to the audience’s delight. ‘Side Steppin had the crowd moving accordingly, Jarman orchestrating proceedings with soulful vocals, itself a fitting occurrence as this track was what first brought Werkha to my attention thanks to Gilles Peterson‘s Brownswood Bubblers series. In fact, Peterson has been tipping the band for quite some time, high praise indeed for a man so seminal to the world music umbrella, and their performance vindicated his support and then some.


Gilles had predictably set himself a high bar when he took to the decks after. Often, there can be a lull on the dancefloor as live performance moves to DJing, but this was countenanced by the seasoned veteran who moved through excellent Brazilian cuts like Dom Um Romao’s ‘Escravos de Jo’ to warm things up and maintain the energy and looseness of Werkha’s show. He then repositioned and moved into housier territory, demonstrating the eclecticism of his taste which he’s been so rightly famed for over the last three decades. To close, Marcos Valle’s ‘Estrellar’ had punters singing along and moving to that irresistible bassline, ending a memorable set for all involved.

Romare and Auntie Flo then took to the controls for the next 5 hours, combining solo sets and a b2b in the middle. I’d been looking forward to Auntie Flo intensely since hearing his Beats In Space podcast earlier in the week, though it was Romare who stepped up to the plate first to deliver his solo segment, combining disco edits like Jamie 3:26 & Cratebug’s ‘Hit It n Quit It’ with his own productions taken from his recent Projections LP on Ninja Tune. When Auntie Flo got involved the music turned somewhat deeper, a change welcomed by the crowd who battled through prohibitively hot conditions to dance and appreciate the Glaswegian’s undeniable skills. By now, my ID’ing skills were less apparent, though some of Auntie Flo’s fresh material from his upcoming Huntleys & Palmers release shone through the haze and sounded groovy through Oval Space’s system, whose diminished volume levels were the only other contentious issue of the whole night.

Then again, we’d be knit picking to make a big issue of the heat or this, and it wasn’t impactful enough to mare a fantastic night of global rhythms. Though my first Just a Little & Tremors night, if the programming maintains these impeccably high standards, I’m sure I’ll be back time and time again.

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