On Friday I was lucky enough to experience the legendary band, The Roots, play an incredible live show at the Hammersmith Apollo (thanks to the Just Elemental team). This was a big deal, anyone who knows Hip Hop, or is a music fan in general will know how innovative and inspiring The Roots’ material has been for the past 25 years, and it was incredible to be able to witness the band live in London for the first time in two years – a place special to the band, which they described as a ‘homecoming’. Hit the jump for more.
The crowd was one of the most diverse I’ve ever seen, from teenagers rocking Eastpak to men in suits sporting T.M Lewin – everyone was there to celebrate the coolest band that is The Roots. The Philadelphia-born Hip Hop legends performed a whole discography of their library from “You Got Me” (my favourite), “Here I Come”, “Proceed”, “How I Got Over” and “Break You Off” – all with tremendous energy, enthusiasm and gusto which I can only compare to that of rock stars! The energy on stage, championed by rapper Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter was so genuine and captivating, it was as if the crowd were listening in on a studio session.
The crowds appreciation for this experience was out of this world, I’d say I spent a good 25% of the concert looking at the crowd – there were fans that knew every line, every drum beat, every guitar riff – it looked like a game of Guitar Hero, fused with the coolness of Hip Hop. I later spoke with some of The Roots’ team and they too were commenting on how amazing both the crowd was, and the atmosphere in general. Fans were treated to a 25 minute version of “Mellow My Man”, from the “Do You Want More” album where Questlove and percussionist Frankie “Knuckles” had a drum showdown - as well as an amazing guitar solo by musician and singer, Kirk Douglas.
We were also lucky enough to experience tributes to J.Dilla, Fela Kuti, Guns N Roses, Led Zeppelin, Curtis Mayfield and Gil Scott Heron.
The phrase “standing ovation” doesn’t even begin to describe the kind of appreciation the band got from the 4,500-strong crowd. Hammersmith Apollo erupted into clapping, shouting, screaming and cheering for well over 10 minutes as Questlove signed drumsticks and Knuckles, threw them out into the audience. At the end of the show, Questlove left straight away to go and play his DJ set over at Doctor’s Orders, East Village.
My friends and I headed over shortly afterwards. The basement of the East London nightclub was absolutely packed, hot like a sauna. We came downstairs to Quest playing Funk and Soul, it was like we’d been taken back a few decades – everyone was dancing, the vibes were perfect! However after a short while it started to materialise that many of the people at the afterparty hadn’t gone to The Roots’ show – and so the Questlove afterparty WAS their Roots show! Male groupies clustered around the DJ booth to film Questlove’s set and take photos, at one point this paparazzi circle was 4 man deep!
I’d actually told Black Thought to come down, but being a former Londoner himself and having been to plenty of Questlove sets here, he already knew the deal and warned me of the “paps” just snapping photos and no-one dancing. It was kind of embarassing, even Quest came on the mic at one point telling people to stop watching him and dance and have a good time!
But the Doctor’s Orders x Questlove afterparty was still a nice way to end the evening – I was so hyped and exhausted from The Root’s exceptional performance that I probably couldn’t have handled a Puff Daddy style crazy arse party!
“The Roots crew are the foundation, we the original article – no additives, no preservatives. Word up!” – ‘The Ultimate’, Phrenology
Shouts to Dooski for the pictures.