Jazz Cafe, London
When a well established French act come to town, it’s a pretty safe bet that there will be a large crowd, all of whom are ready to prove their Gallic credentials and support their countrymen. So when it was announced that hip hop act Hocus Pocus were hitting the capital, it was clear that the Jazz Cafe in Camden was going to be full to the brim, and that’s exactly what it was.
Bursting onto the stage with a keyboard player, drummer, guitarist, bassist, three piece horn section and DJ Grem on the decks, frontman 20syl took the show by the scruff of the neck immediately, huge smile on his face and ready to dance. For their part, the crowd threw their hands in the air and began cheering and whistling along to every song from the word go too.
Running through the fan-favourites Smile [with UK’s Omar hitting the stage for the chorus line], Mr Tout Le Monde and Hip Hop?, 20syl was the perfect focal point for a band so tight it was impossible to find any imperfections. Speaking in both his mother tongue and excellent English, the rapper got the crowd singing drum kicks, turn table scratches and had the crowd bouncing and freezing at his every whim, providing a masterclass in crowd participation.
The fun wasn’t all focussed on their album tracks either, with each member of the band providing short recordings of one sound, be it a hi-hat, kick, snare or chorus line and building up a beat through these layered levels before perfoming a track over said improvised beat – it was truly something to behold. Even if the band hadn’t spoken English at any point, the non-Francophiles in the crowd would still have had a great time. It was what hip hop shows are meant to be – fun.
By the time the group had left the stage, there wasn’t a single person left in the venue that had any energy left, a perfect way to end the night.