Benga @ Fabric Nightclub, London 16.01.11

Tempa’s resident wild man and one of dubstep’s seasoned veterans, Croydon born DJ/producer Benga brings his trademark sounds to Fabric, one of London’s most seasoned venues.

Jan 16th, 2011 at Fabric, London / By Matthew Bayfield
Benga Benga is a DJ regularly characterised by his unmistakably enthusiastic approach to a live performance and the seemingly boundless energy the man carries about his person both off and onstage. It therefore seems, on first approach, something of an anti-climax when the distinctively wild haired Croydon beat maker gingerly takes to the stage, shakes hands with the members of the Scratch Perverts (who have just finished a blisteringly energetic set) rolls up the sleeves of his plain charcoal grey granddad shirt and begins to play a steadily rhythmic, albeit utterly standard, tribal beat to accompany relative newcomer MC Youngman onto the stage.

The setup seems much more SU Bar than that of one of London’s most pivotal clubnights. The feeling is only heightened by a barrage of standardised frontman spiel such as “Are we feeling it?” and “Make some noise!” Indeed these hackneyed words hardly stir the spirit like that of Mahatma Ghandi at his pomp. Hell, it’s barely even Boris Johnson.

And with that, the track stops dead. Youngman takes a brief look back toward the boards, and returns to face the audience with a slight grin. “The ego… has Landed!” With this appropriate verbal cue Benga drops the ever more appropriate ‘Anthemic’ taken from his Magnetic Man release first heard some six or so hectic months ago. From here on in the sonic barrage on the crowd is nothing short of relentless for nearly sixty minutes and Youngman, although lyrically unremarkable, admirably proves a flexible and diligent pace setter, even managing to throw in the curve ball of some soulful vocals without upsetting the flow of proceedings.

Meanwhile, behind the national grid molesting array of decks and dials centre stage, the initially placid Benga can be seen screaming, bouncing, nodding and flailing around to his hearts content, somewhat reminiscent of a young James Brown after a bag of blue Smarties. Indeed the Fabric staff dispersed carefully at the sidelines spotting for flaking club goers have decided to focus their concern on the increasingly sweating dervish onstage, who looked like he could very realistically be melting over his sound mixer.

The pace of proceedings moves much in this same way for what feels like ten minutes but is actually closer to an hour with Benga covering everyone from colleague Skream, through to the more psychedelic sounds of Joker and a healthy wedge of his own back catalogue. The only break in tempo comes in the form of the instrumental and, dare we say it, even gentle Magnetic Man composition ‘Flying Into Tokyo.’ No sooner has the MC asked the crowd to get phones and lighters in the air however the serene mood is smashed as Youngman launches into his Benga produced feminist bating single ‘HO!’ This promptly throws the entire room, regardless of gender, back into the large scale chanting and synchronized head bobbing commonplace of only live dubstep shows and Tibetan monasteries. And, although potentially not putting in quite as much elbow grease in the fields of charity and spirituality, dubstep, and Benga in particular, are certainly starting to round up their very own dedicated tribe of followers, with shows like this making the reasons all too apparent.