Culture, Music

Deltron 3030 review – more than a decade on, this outlandish musical collision remains red-hot

Electric Ballroom, LondonDeltron 3030, Electric Ballroom, London, 20141118, by Aaron Lee (1448x815)The ghoulish, deep voice of Del the Funky Homosapien (aka Teren Delvon Jones) has a clarity even uninitiated hip hop listeners could differentiate from the crowded MC scene. And last night’s Deltron 3030 concert at the Electric Ballroom, Camden, he reminded the audience just what it means to go to a hip hop show that puts the audience before ego, such was the near-faultless tone and precision of his raps.

A small, but devoted crowd had packed out just over half the venue to see the 14-strong band, which included beatmaker Dan the Automator, turntablist Kid Koala, guitarists, an orchestra and choir, perform cuts from both of their sci-fi-inspired concept albums.

The clam voice of Damon Albarn introducing the barren, dystopia that is Deltron’s world set the tone for this most alternative of acts. The ‘Wonderful World’-esque ‘3030’ kicked off the theatrics with Automator pretending to conduct the orchestra and Del leaping into the first of several, intricate mile-long raps. Emitting loudly and dramatically clearly from the 42-year-old, clad as he was in darkened specs and a t-shirt, the Oakland rapper was unstoppable.

Songs such as ‘Positive Contact’ were greeted excitedly by the audience, which couldn’t have been further from the rowdy punch-ups and mosh pits that have become a familiar part of urban hip hop shows (a la Odd Future). The band turned the temperature up, launching into ‘Nobody Can’ and the anarchy rousing ‘Melding of the Minds’, which features Rage Against the Machine vocalist Zack De La Rocha.

Kid Koala, real name Eric San, bounded with energy – leaping dangerously off of his DJ table and churning his decks with the vigour of a chef tenderising an especially flavoursome meat. During a brief break, he spun a special mix for the crowd earning whoops of appreciation.

Afterwards, Del’s verbal vignettes continued with tales of being “caught in the grip of the city” in ‘Madness’ and the Egyptian fable of Osiris turned on its head with sonic vigour in ‘City Rising from the Ashes’, before ended the main set with ‘Memory Loss’ an anti-establishment song with a creeping melody that feels part-Monty Python, part-rare groove.

Returning for an encore of the sobering ‘Do You Remember’ and a classic rendition of Gorillaz’ ‘Clint Eastwood’ (the crowd chanting the lyrics throughout), the band could have easily filled another hour and a half with their outlandish collision of sci-fi tropes, film overtures and alternative hip hop and the audience would have lapped it up. This hip hop supergroup may have had over a decade between releases, but theatre troupe-like camaraderie and vocals so clear they could be mistaken for the studio dubs make Deltron a fantastic night for all.

Set list
State of the Nation
Positive Contact
Pay the Price
Nobody Can
Melding of the Minds
The Agony
Kid Koala Solo (Intermission)
City Rising from the Ashes
Memory Loss
Do You Remember
Clint Eastwood (Gorillaz Cover)

Image: Aaron Lee