Throwbacks, Saxaphones and Pull Ups – HLN Reviews The Outlook Orchestra

By Anton Constantinou and Sumit Rehal

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Highlight Nation writers, Sumit Rehal and Anton Constantinou had the pleasure of attending The Outlook Orchestra at London Southbank.

The night saw a 100 minute live mix, bringing together some of the greatest tracks from the world-famous Outlook Festival in its 10 year history.

A 20 piece live orchestra provided the centre piece for a truly spectacular night of urban meets philharmonic. The performing acts included Pharoahe Monch, Foreign Beggars, General Levy, Congo Natty, Jehst, Jenna G and Mad Professor.

Following the night, Anton and Sumit discussed what they thought of the special occasion.

Anton

Wow, what a night! I’ll be honest, I didn’t know what to expect. Part of me was predicting some proper rowdy gig; my other side, a sit-down event. What about you?

Sumit

A few years ago I went to see Bob James at the Barbican and that was a proper formal affair with everyone sitting down and clapping.

All of the other gigs that I go to are proper mosh pit type nights, so I was predicting that tonight would be more like the former. The balance was just perfect though with people getting off their seats to stand and dance once the night got going.

Anton

Hearing Pharoahe drop Simon Says as we walked in was sick! We literally arrived at the best time. You know what, I was feeling proper tired after work, but that definitely woke me up!

Sumit

It must have been because Simon says “Get the fuck up!” Those horns sounded mad in their pure form. So glad we caught that just in time.

Anton

I wish Jehst had stayed on for longer. I mean, High Plains Drifter sounded dope live, but I would’ve liked to hear more stuff. The whole event was pretty one-on-one-off, don’t you think?

Sumit

Yeah, it must have been so tough for each artist to choose only one or two songs from their whole library for the unique event. There was such a variety of music from hip hop to R&B to jungle to reggae, so they had to get the schedule just right for the mixed crowd.

Anton

The Newham Generals were raw! Not heard them since the Channel U days. Never thought I’d see a live orchestra rendition of grime music.

Sumit

D Double E used to be the OG on Channel U, he was in practically every other video! The night showed that grime can be taken to the next level when given the capacity to do so, I feel more grime artists shouldn’t be afraid to take their music out of their comfort zones and experiment with more instruments.

Anton

General Levy – what a G! I swear he was rocking snakeskin boots?! It’s funny, he’s one of the first people that springs to mind when you think “jungle” but he ain’t even one of the original pioneers! Incredible was too good though! I heard you spitting along to Pull Up

Sumit

I was just loving the fact that he got a 20 piece orchestra to pull up! I didn’t think it would be physically possible…the wonders of music, eh!

Anton

A few tracks took me by surprise. Gabriel by Roy Davies Jnr and Peven Everett caught me off guard, for sure. I’m still unsure whether that was Everett singing. Also loved the way they snuck in Moan and Groan by Mark Morrison – didn’t recognise it at first as a girl was singing the vocals. What tunes surprised you?

Sumit

When I heard No No Noooooo come out of Dawn Penn’s soulful mouth, it took me by surprise as I just didn’t realise she was on the card!

Anton

Oh my days, was that actually Dawn Penn?! I knew No No No was gonna drop as soon as I heard the opening! Was she Crip Walking on stage at one point?

Sumit

Haha, that’s what I thought too, we should have got a video of that and dubbed it with Kurupt’s C-Walk! What was your favourite part from the orchestra then?

Anton

I would have to say General Levy. He upped the ante. When he stepped on the stage the atmosphere was lifted. By the time he dropped Incredible, the crowd were electric. His outfit was pretty eye catching as well. What about you?

Sumit

I would say I was looking forward to seeing Levy after seeing how much nostalgia he brought back during that 1xtra live session. Interestingly though, it was actually the old school Garage set with Be Sincere and Gabriel that moved me the most. Been banging out the UKG the whole week since!

Anton

Really?! Were you into Garage back in the day, then?

Sumit

UKG was at its peak in the late 90s and early 2000s. I was only around 10 at the time and it was always background music to my life when my older siblings would bang it out of the speakers.

So hearing those anthems set me back and the nostalgia violins came out. Were you a fan?

Anton

Big time! Artful dodger were blowing up when I was 11/12, and their music became the soundtrack of my early secondary school years. Also big into the likes of Groove chronicles and Grant Nelson. Did you know UKG actually originated in The States?

Sumit

Yeah I knew the origins of UKG trace back to US house and garage but that but I still find it mad because it’s has such a cultural influence in London. I guess because it evolved to combine with the drum n bass and jungle MC culture too.

Do you feel there will be a renaissance of garage in the UK, with it making a little comeback and hearing it on a grand scale last week?

Anton

The story goes that Garage as a genre has its roots in a club called Paradise Garage – a New York club which used to bang out disco and deep house back in the day, but never really took off due to its relationship with the homosexual community.

DJ Todd Edwards is said to have put out some examples of “garage”, and, if I’m not too mistaken, his music was picked up by DJ Ez who basically sped it up and created speed garage.

Sumit

So the form that we listen to is speed garage? EZ probably sped it up to familiarise it with the ravers who were used to that tempo in the dnb scene.

Anton

Yeah, that sounds about right! Not sure if speed garage is still the correct the term, as garage has since developed into 2-step and bassline. Wot Do You Call It by Wiley demonstrates a later transition into grime, as in the lyrics he asks the question of whether the song is “garage” or “urban”, no doubt aware of the changes happening at the time.

Sumit

So altogether can you see there being a renaissance of the sound of that whole era?

Anton

Difficult to say. Disclosure have contributed to a revival of sorts, and Craig David’s recent comeback could mean big things for UKG. Jungle and dnb gigs seem to pop up all the time in London, so that popularity should sustain for the time being.

What do you think?

Sumit

I see what you mean but it seems like Disclosure and the like are an off-shoot rather than garage in its pure form. Who would you like to see on a live orchestra next time round?

Anton

The Roots would be amazing, seeing as a lot of their material has incorporated life instrumentation. I can just imagine Questlove playing alongside a violinist and bass guitarist. How about you?

Sumit

That would be mad! Especially since they already excel in live form, an orchestra would take it to the next level!

I would say Nas. Imagine Illmatic back to front?! 10 tracks, straight pure fire with such an awesome orchestra providing the instrumentals.

Anton

It’s certainly a visual album. I can definitely see an orchestra delivering the piano work on The World Is Yours, and maybe a live xylophone player working their magic on One Love!



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