Live Reviews

J. Chambers – 33 Oldham Street, Manchester: Live Review

J. Chambers brings Escape The Kingdom and more to the live stage with an impressive full band performance.

When J. Chambers released Escape The Kingdom (review here) back in 2021, it really hit hard with its societal commentary and highlighting of pertinent issues around race and culture. In 2022, it still cuts deep, and now, with the chance to showcase the album on stage, J. Chambers wows a packed crowd at Manchester’s 33 Oldham Street venue.

Opening the evenings proceedings was the up and coming Caveman. His tunes and words, like many on the bill this evening, were of the struggle of daily life. From Whalley Range, Manchester, his delivery was top class and the music had a good level of diversity with one track taking a little turn into drum and bass. This helped move the energy up a notch before end of the set.

With J. Chambers playing MC for the evening, his hype for Caveman and his introduction for Rowen James is, like many things J. does, full of love and from the heart.

Rowen James has several releases to his name. He melds thought provoking lyrics and 90’s hip hop style into his own mix. The chilled out, laid back vibe of many of the beats is reminiscent of acts like Dilated Peoples and Jurassic 5. His latest release, Vent, is a brilliant piece. The lyrics and flow are sublime and the music is just as poignant; it is a really catchy cut. His enthusiasm and belief in the music is clear on stage. Another highlight of his set comes in the form of Greatest Trick. Again, it comes from the heart.

J. Chambers, takes the mic at the end of James’ set. He reminds the audience that all the artists are from Manchester and that all this talent is on the doorstep. With that in mind, he introduces another local artist; J.S.D.

J.S.D. is the man behind local label, Midication. He is also a producer, engineer and general music man. His latest album, Ask About Me has just been released and it is this record that J.S.D. is promoting tonight. The opening cut of the album opens the set; Intro Spective. As the title suggests, it’s one of many ruminations on life and living. Another piece from Ask About Me is the wildly infectious DOE. It’s beat threatens to break out into standard dance fair but J.S.D. holds it back to great effect. You still want to move to it, but the lyrics are kept firmly at the forefront. It’s a real highlight of the set with solid interaction with the crowd which sees J.S.D. taking it to the crowd and onto the floor. A choice older selection comes in the form of Back In The Mix; the bass ensures that the foundations of the venue are tested as J.S.D. leaves his mark.

J.S.D. launches Ask About Me officially on 24th June with a stacked show of local artists; you can buy tickets here.

With three brilliant acts warming up the crowd, the stage was set perfectly for J. Chambers to deliver Escape The Kingdom and more with his band.

Decked out in the stylish Ajax third kit with the Rastafari flag draped over his mic, J. Chambers kicked off his set with the title track. Alongside his vocal partner, Kam, the track sounds renewed musically with the band approach. Rob Evans holds the music together on the drums with Anton Hunter on guitar, Liv on keys and Will on trumpet. The sound is authentic and the band are tight.

Sirens gets the extended treatment with a solid groove locked in and Kill The Noise follows. The latter is a narrative about trying to move forward with campaigns like Black Lives Matter et al to make a change so that the same things do not keep repeating themselves. After Freedom Ain’t Free J. comments; ‘This shit makes me so happy!’ The crowd lap up every moment and the smile from J. illuminates the room – it is clear to see the fun he is having seeing and hearing this project come together like this.

A small break in proceedings, giving the band a breather, comes as J. performs one of his most devastating poems in the form of My Antenna. It is greeted with nods, shouts and comments of approval after each line. It is a vital piece of art that should be heard far and wide.

Newer material comes in the form of Overstand and Gimme That; but it is the newer Ain’t No Black In The Union Jack that hits hardest. ‘Ain’t no black in the Union Jack,’ shout the crowd and J. in defiant unity. Pulsing beats and intelligent wordplay weave together to build up an atmosphere of sheer delight.

J. takes it emotionally back to his roots with the reflective Blackley Boy to finish the set; it is an ode to growing up in Blackley, Manchester; a common theme of all the artists on show.

Before the night is out, J. is presented with a birthday cake and a rendition of ‘Happy Birthday.’ Celebration is another common theme of the evening. These artists, this crowd and countless messages of positivity make for a stunning night of music. Wherever you are reading this, and wherever you are from, get into your local gigs and find those gems of artists – it is worth your time and the artists will appreciate it so much.

Listen to My Antenna from J. Chambers below.

J. Chambers: Twitter / Instagram / Facebook

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