Soulwax, where did the suits and humour go?

I did Music Tech at Uni and a lot all my class mates were really in to the very latest new music, raving about the latest bands I’d never even heard of. I kind of got that feeling of being an outsider if I didn’t have a band that no one else had heard of to champion over coffee and a dunked mars bar. Indeed, there’s probably just one band who I can lay claim to picking up on before everyone else jumped on the bandwagon and that band be Soulwax.

I caught the last 20 seconds or so of their song “Too Many DJ’s” when tuning in to Steve Lamacq’s show one evening in 1999, when they released the EP the first time round over here. I frantically typed the name of the band in to this revolutionary piece of software we had back in the day called Napster and absolutely loved what I heard. So I managed to track down the EP, followed by just about everything else that was released over here and whatever I could import. Eventually went to go see them support Muse and was not disappointed despite having their set cut down to just 20 minutes due to a delay letting people in. Saw them again at Nottingham’s Rock City when they had their own tour later in the year and again was blown away.They put on a real show with beige suits, flashing fluorescent tube mic stands, some clever ad-lib’ing when ear pieces didn’t work, bit of crowd interaction and old school Casio synth guitars. Friggin’ ace!

So then came the 2 Many DJ’s phenomenon, taking bootleg mash-ups to the mainstream with tremendous success. I was as much a fan of that stuff as Soulwax the band but if we’re talking about a live performance, two guys behind a set of decks just ain’t gonna get the same reaction from me.

Fast forward a year or so to the next album Soulwax album, Any Minute Now, and I went with some friends to see them in Manchester at the same venue as before. Perhaps expectations were too high but I was a little disappointed. The music was fantastic, the crowd was manic, but they’d dropped a lot of that crazy Belgium stuff which made the Much Against Everyone’s Advice gigs so great. No C-A-S-I-O in this set and very little in the way of crowd interaction. Caught them again at a much smaller venue in Nottingham the following year and they were much better but still there was no sign of ‘old Soulwax’ which I dearly missed. Then when me, Mark and Adi went to Rock Werchter I was hopeful that playing on home turf they might pull something out of the bag. Of course, they didn’t manage it, although I blame the crowd for being completely life less.

In any case it seems the suits, mic stands and comedy are gone for good. Which is why when I stumbled upon this over lunch I came over all nostalgic (hey, 6 years is a long time for me). Enjoy.

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