TF Archives

Renaissance Feat. James Zabiela & Infusion (Live) - 13.6.2004

Author: Cameron Adams
Thursday, June 17, 2004
Outside, it was eight degress, inside it was a sauna.

Room 680 was packed with believers and the soon-to-be-converted -- those who had come to see someone labeled Sasha's protege, but would leave having experienced James Zabiela.

Ivan Gough had the crowd rocking early in the main room with some chunky house and breaks. As I walked in he started playing his own remix of Nubreed's "To Know", which sent the crowd right off. Ivan seemd to have caught Zabiela fever, as he went wild with the effects unit all night and even dropped in some excellent scratching -- proving that he's not only an able producer but can cut it behind the decks as well.

But I was in the mood for some breaks tonight, so as he brought in the next pumping house tune I wandered into the "Futurebreaks" room.

Dan Mangan was playing the perfect accompaniment to a glass of Bailey's: deep and smooth breaks. Quivver's aptly named "Space Manoeuvres" set up a spacy chilled vibe in the side room, a good contrast to the energy pulsing out of the main room. After sheltering in Dan's cool sounds for a while, it was time to get sweaty for the first half of tonight's double bill.

Up on the stage in the main room you could just see some shadowed movement as Ivan's final, thunderous tune faded out, leading into Infusion's last Australian performance before heading overseas. The three members of Infusion looked weirdly mismatched: a teenage ska band member (short sleeve shirt and tie) meets Metallica's bass guitarist (brooding, metre-long hair). But any doubts about their identity were wiped clean away as that pulsing Infusion bass rolled out of the speakers, rattling your rib cage, while huge, hypnotic beats forced you to feet to move.

In opposition to their huge, punchy sound, their performance had an earnest, pub rock feel to it -- like they were having a conversation with the audience. The end of every breakdown was accompanied by a huge swell of crowd appreciation as the band slammed their dancefloor battering sound back in, and even Manuel's mistimed vocals on one track was greeted with cheering.

By the end of their set Infusion had raised the excitement to fever pitch, their encouragement on stage amping the crowd up until a familiar buzzing synth sent them wild. Their remix of Will Saul's "Cliff" threatened to close out the show, but they had one more. An unreleased track that was Infusion meets Nirvana: big, roaring guitars that made you want to mosh and pushed the crowd into a frenzy. As it faded out and Infusion made their exit you could feel the letdown in the room: what, no more!- But they didn't know what was going to hit them.

As a tinkling, child-like sound filled the tense post-Infusion silence, I could hear the two guys next to me.

"Who's that up there-"

"Looks like some chick DJ."

"Hey, do you know who that is-"

"It's James Zabiela" I told him.

"Oh, it's James Zabiela" he passed on.

I'm sure they'd remember that by night's end.

It was five seconds in and James was already busy in the booth. Sampling what sounded like a toy piano, he pitched it up and down into a simple tune, warping it into some massive distortion that finally resolved into Goldie's "Inner City Life". Those familiar words washed away the dark, dirty residue of Infusion, calming everyone down ... until the beats hit. As the breakbeat stabbed in under the vocal, we all knew that we were in for three hours of something special.

As much as you can try, you can't break a James Zabiela performance down into a tracklisting; he's a trainspotter's nightmare. He's done so many edits, uses so many samples and works the effects unit so hard during every set that you can be guaranteed he's had a hand in developing the sound of every song you hear. In addition to technical abilities, I don't think I've seen a friendlier guy behind the decks. Bouncing up and down to the tracks, grinning at onlookers as the bass floods in and shaking hands mid-mix -- combined<