Ask any British teenager if they watch the BBC Proms and their response will almost surely be a stark snort of disdain. In an effort to showcase new music and special collaborations the BBC commissioned a brand new annual event in late 2006 – the BBC Electric Proms.
Since its debut in 2006, the Electric Proms have been beset with amazing performances and truly unique collaborations from Kasabian, James Brown, Jamiroquai, Kaiser Chiefs, Burt Bacharach feat. Jamie Cullum, Nitin Sawhney (also the composer for Heavenly Sword) feat. Natty, Oasis and Africa Express to name but a few. And not forgetting The Good, the Bad & the Queen, one of my personal favourites who also made their opening debut at the very first Electric Proms.
Taking in place in the heart of Camden town, at the Roundhouse, KOKO, and several other local clubs and bars, the atmosphere is scorching for such an event. Camden is oft known for being a dodgy part of London – drugs, goths, rough types who like piercings and stuff – but the history of the place is astounding. Dusty record stores, dealers with clothes and junk that look like it fell straight out of 1945, street art and, of course, live music. I’ll save my reverence for the place for another post, but there’s no question in my mind that the Electric Proms belong in Camden.
The event certainly seems to have shrunk even during its short lifetime. Back in 2007 there were over seventy artists and performers, but this year there were just a meagre ten artists performing at the Camden venues.
Nevertheless, the BBC still managed to sign up some fantastic headline acts for the experimental music event. This year saw the return of Robbie Williams, and, though it pains me to say it, because I can’t stand the man, a reasonably good set from Dizzee Rascal.