The great thing about Ibiza Rocks is that it exposes me to music that I might otherwise not be – I’ll be the first to admit I’m not Labrinth’s biggest fan. I’ll also be the first one to admit that the only real track of his I’ve heard is ‘Earthquake’ (to which he requested the crowd to “show me how to party, let’s create an earthquake in Ibiza!”) and it’s not really for me. Having said all of that I was pleasantly surprised by his performance at Ibiza Rocks last night. You could be forgiven for thinking he’s another one of these one-time pop artists that releases tracks that would fit very nicely on the ‘Now 1,000,000’ album that’s probably due out soon, but you’d be wrong. Listening to his full set I released he has genuine musical pedigree – something Ibiza Rocks clearly already knew when booking him.
His live vocals were clear, crisp and well sung, whilst it was impressive to see him switch confidently between his synth, his voice controlled synth, and guitar. Even when he switched from full live band to more or less just his voice and guitar it was all pretty flawless, particularly during tracks like ‘Frisky’ that were presented in a rawer, more ‘rock’ orientated manner. Clearly a lot of his music had been adapted for the setting - many of the tracks had been changed from the versions you might find on the radio or YouTube, and there was a real representation of different genre’s of music, from rock, to pop, to dubstep, to drum ‘n’ bass – showcasing his talents and taste’s, which are vast and considerable. I mean, who could carry on with a show whilst a lycra clad, sex doll wielding mad man raves on a few metres in front of your face? Not even the sordid sex affair that the group had with the doll did. Impressive.
You know, the guy is proof that you should never really judge a book by its cover, I did, and I’ve now changed my opinion dramatically. Then again, if I am presented with another urban artist who just auto tunes his voice to nonsense backing tracks I’ll throw my camera at them. Thankfully, Timothy McKenzie, aka Labrinth, isn’t one of them, and like he says in his ‘Express Yourself’ track; “I’m not in the form of the X-Factor, I’m not what you’d expect”. I hear that…
There was a brief respite between acts with beats provided by the all-knowing Ibiza Rocks personality that is Doorly. ‘Energy’ and ‘Enthusiasm’ are words best used to describe his antics up on that little DJ platform to the left of stage, as he was joined occasionally by resident Nicola Bear (watch out for her Ibiza Spotlight Podcast soon…) and Annie Mac. Annie was on presenting duty as the Channel 4 film crew were in the building for this season’s coverage, and as always managed the crowd with Doorly’s help nicely to get the shots they needed.
Moving on then to the headline act for the night – Maverick Sabre – this was the artist I was looking forward to. Again, my experience of his music is based entirely on what I’ve listened to on YouTube and the like, but I loved it all. The first thing you notice about his music is his voice, it’s such a distinct unique voice with tinges of your cockney, Irish and Jamaican accents. God knows what’s going on there though – I mean he was born in London and brought up in Ireland – so where’s this Jamaican influence come from? Wherever it did, it can stay, I’m diggin’ it. (If you really want to know, there are loads of interviews all seemingly asking the same question online).
The set list was littered with current tracks like ‘I Need’, ‘Let Me Go’ and new single ‘These Days’, but kept taking it back for the old school Sabre fans (so he said) with tracks like ‘Look What I Done’ and the beautiful soulful ‘I Can Never Be’, which were all really well received by the more knowledgeable fans in the crowd. Worth mentioning as well is Maverick’s backing singer, Chantelle, whose vocals alone could justify the position of lead singer in her own right, as she often riffed alone a-cappella style whilst being hyped up by Maverick himself…
Perhaps my favourite track of the night came in the form of ‘Sometimes’, half sung, half rapped, the track is all about you forgetting your roots, something that I guess Maverick Sabre couldn’t be accused of as he constantly pays homage to his background and influences, possibly explaining the Jamaican side to his vocal (which is most apparent in ‘Let Me Go’). But then ‘No One’ was beautifully sung, as flawless as the video version. I can’t stand poor live performers, so all hail Maverick Sabre for being a fantastic live act.
Everything was then brought to the inevitable conclusion of the encore moment. I’m always left wondering at this stage if there’s even any need in having them. Everyone walks off 10 minutes before the end of the agreed set time, and everyone always walks back on. Crowds rarely bother chanting “more, more!” because they know full well they will be back. Alas, it happened, the crowd begged for more and they all came back on as he asked, “Is it alright if I sing another song?” Doubtful anyone was thinking “nah, you’re alright thanks. I’m done”. And so the gig was finished off with the amazing ‘I Need’ track. Nothing else can be said about it other than to say it was great. If you aren’t already a fan of this guy, then jump on the bandwagon folks, this sh*t is hot!
You can also read McRackin's review of the gig HERE