Formula for creating an unbelievable amount of hype: (a) become an underground rapper connected with some of the most influential groups of a generation, (b) befriend a turntablist who rates among the best in the world, (c) befriend producer who is to underground hip-hop as Kanye is to the mainstream, (d) get together and create an album that is the stuff of legend, (e) separate for 12 years, (f) do a reunion tour with a full band and orchestra.
Deltron was, as far as fans were concerned, a one-off project. The stuff of underground hip-hop legend. A sci-fi concept album featuring the heaviest hitters of the time, it was an epic ode to creativity in a genre that often felt stale. So, fans listened. But the coming of a second album was not something easily foreseen, or even remotely expected. The individual players had gone back to their respective corners, but, not hindered by a decade of hype, not only was it a pleasant surprise, but a grand return for a genre that had become stale. The announcement that there would be a supporting tour with the aforementioned players involved was icing on the cake. So did it pay off?
Grand epic answer: yes. Coming out with horns, strings, and turntables blazing, the classic masterpiece “3030” filled TLA with it’s blaring orchestral pieces and imaginative raps about magic and mechs. The entire group seemed genuinely happy to be out and about. Del Tha Funkee Homosapien danced and pranced around the stage as if it was the first time he had ever performed. Dan The Automator bounced back and forth between manning the effects pads and conducting the string sections, as Kid Koala reminded us all of what can truly be accomplished if you give a man 3 turntables. The backing band brought a fair amount of energy as well, one particularly spunky trombone player was trying to steal the show. Every track, old and new, sounded eternally more expansive live than the albums could ever allow.
I have to be honest though, and insist that there was a glaring issue with the evening that just kept it from being as perfect as I dreamed. Whether he was too high (said it himself) or too far removed from performing the material, Del seemed to forget a fair amount of the lyrical content. Sometimes just skipping lines, and seeming to fill certain other blank spots with gibberish, and in some instances losing his timing with the beat. Overall though, he was really having a blast, so, it wasn’t a game ender. By the time they got around to the epic finale of the Gorillaz hit “Clint Eastwood,” he honestly could have been quoting Hemingway all night and the crowd would have been just as in to it.
Scheduled opener Itchy got held up in the UK, so the crowd was treated to a genuinely amazing extended set by Kid Koala on the turntables. No computers, no effects machines, just 3 turntables, 2 mixers, and a crate full of vinyl, it was one of the most fantastic displays of turntable mastery I’ve seen in at least half a decade. This was a truly awesome display of old school hip-hop aesthetics.