It’s 9pm, and throughout London’s Roundhouse a heartbeat is pulsating, and, projected onto a huge screen behind the stage, a one-minute countdown ticks away the time until another act takes the stage. The iTunes festival, a showcase for everything that’s new in music (and Paul Simon) is in its fifth year, and is showing no signs of tiredness. Executed in truly apple style, the whole experience oozes refinement, from the custom and perfectly designed banners to the organized ranks of people dealing with tickets. The Roundhouse, a clean, modern venue, provides the perfect theatre for this highly orchestrated system.
Alex Clare, for those who aren’t already familiar with his music, is a man with an exceptional voice. His cover of Prince’s ‘When Doves Cry’ is a synth-piano-led dubstep-sounding masterpiece which does justice and more to the original. It’s easy for performers to forget about vocals somewhat with genres like dubstep, but with Alex Clare, they take center stage, and mark one of the most impressive aspects of his music.
His set included that cover, along with ‘Too Close’, ‘Treading Water’, the beautiful ballad: ‘Relax my Beloved’ and the epic ‘Sanctury’. Throughout the whole performance, his backing group produced loud, bass-filled guitar-led dubstep, which perfectly complemented his voice, and got the rapidly-filling Roundhouse moving, which for a gig full of competition winners is no mean feat. The whole set is available online through iTunes or the iTunes Festival app, and it’s definitely worth a watch.
As Magnetic Man’s set was wheeled on, a huge cheer went up among the crowd – four laptops have never had so much attention. They were sitting on a huge table, surrounded by mixers and a sprawl of cables, ready to carry a pulsing bass to one of the finest sound systems in London.
After the countdown, Skream, Benga and Artwork took to the stage. Opening with ‘Mad’, they played whilst MC Poke energized the crowd, which started to heave and bounce, but the touch paper had not even yet been lit. For ‘Fire’, the next track, Ms. Dynamite appeared on stage, and the crowd started moving even more. Her performance was impressive, and it was clear, even after so many years, that her fans are widespread.
Through the rest of the set, bass flowed out like an avalanche, rolling through the crowd and almost moving the floor. Through ‘The Bug’, ‘Flying Through Tokyo’ and ‘Certified Banger’ the crowd remained attentive, and things got even more active when Alex Clare returned to the stage for the roaring duet ‘Getting Nowhere’.
Picking up momentum all the time, Magnetic Man’s performance reaches a whole new level with their breakthrough song ‘I Need Air’. The whole crowd singing along, moving from side to side and generally going wild, seemed to be completely lost in the music, yet things were set to turn up yet another gear.
Katy B, one of London’s best musical talents at the moment, appeared on stage to a literal explosion from those being kept back by the barrier. Providing perfect vocals for ‘Crossover’ before the set’s epic finale. ‘Perfect Stranger’, arguably Magnetic Man’s most famous song, and definitely one of their finest, drew the set to a wild close.
An exhilarating performance with an enthusiastic crowd, Magnetic Man and Alex Clare produced a great night of music. Definitely both acts to watch again.