Brighton based label Tru Thoughts have been releasing some of the most dynamic and wide ranging music from the south coast for the last decade and a half. Last Saturday was their 15th birthday party at The Forum in London’s Kentish Town. The venue, traditionally used for live gigs as opposed to club nights, proved to be a shrewd choice; it found the right balance to cater to a crossover line up that reflected the label’s eclectic roster including MCs, live bands and DJ sets. It also benefits from a balcony, very similar to the one found in Brixton Academy, which provided the perfect seated lookout over the crowd and stage below.
Mancunian Werkha, who was picked up a few years back by Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood label, presented his new 6-piece band to an audience for the first time. It was both a chance for him to sample his ensemble and for the audience to hear some new material in what was a classy performance. Being among the first acts, it was a shame that only a fraction of the venue’s capacity enjoyed his bold mash up of styles exemplified by his final song and crowd favourite, Sidesteppin’. But with the promise of more ensemble action, as well as a debut album on the horizon, 2015 looks set to be a big year for Werkha.
Hidden Orchestra turned in possibly the most impressive spectacle of the night with a polished performance showing off their ability to fuse two independent drum parts seamlessly. In another case of multi-instrumentalism, the set featured more tight ensemble, yet with the flow necessary to build layer upon layer of emotion. The music itself was as expansive as it was progressive while a stunning light show enhanced the experience. It was clear that this type of live show could captivate both conventional gig and clubbing audiences – a difficult feat.
Perhaps that was the overriding observation to take away from the night. The line up was a union of the eclecticism Tru Thoughts stands for, no better represented than by the label’s foremost musical outlet, Quantic, who delivered the final DJ set. Dressed in a funky shirt, Quantic merged the dancefloor with his latin rhythms and grooves, expertly crafted from his time spent living on the South American continent. And, true to everyone’s thoughts, the music brought people together from different musical backgrounds, but all open-minded enough to trust the label to deliver an engaging night of music.