I’ve always been slightly apprehensive when visiting the Albert Halls in Manchester; for starters it’s a venue that was originally designed as the Methodist Central Hall in 1910. We’d only just seen the invention of the first Audion Piano in 1915 so to envision the glazed tiles and floral decoration would then serve a purpose for electronic music a century later is pretty absurd, to say the least.
For anyone with a penchant for dance music, a venues acoustics play a rather important role, for me in particular – it’s paramount. The natural acoustics of the Halls do not lend itself to electronic music but what the organisers lacked in sound, they more than made up for with visual aesthetics and atmosphere: the place really is a sight to behold and an irreplaceable asset to Manchester’s live music scene.
I started the evening with Shy FX – a deejay and producer I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing in almost double figures now, but this time – he was disappointing. At one point, I heard the Gorillaz’s ‘Clint Eastwood’ blare out the speaker stacks and it felt more like a fresher’s party on Saturday night at Vodka Revs than one of the most revered drum and bass deejays on the scene.
A man famed for putting on such vibrant, carnival-esque parties was up next and boy did he deliver. Toddla T brought some much-needed razzmatazz replacing the lack of sound quality with a plethora of dancehall dubs, grime cuts and high-energy electronica – I’ve always admired the Steel City icon and he once again proved all his worth.
Parties always get better when the fair-weather revellers go home and this night was no exception. Just as I was settling into a spacious spot on the balcony, David Rodigan took command. He exceeded all my expectations, delivering a set of mind-bending bangers amidst plenty of classics. One memorable transition was to Bob Marley’s ‘Could You Be Loved’, which admittedly always goes down a treat but on this particular occasion was neigh-on perfect. The MBE celebrated selector was by far the most resplendent of the night and he set the stage for DJ Randall to carry the night into its most hyped chapter.
If it weren’t for the lack of sonic quality, in terms of performers, atmosphere and production value, the night would have been faultless. Sometimes, though, you just have to take things as they come and accept the fact that some features are immutable, so enjoy the Albert Halls for what is it – a venue with an incredible ornamental attraction, history and a set of promoters who without a doubt know what they are doing.