Beardyman – The Dream Team Sessions [Live Review – Electric Brixton, London, 2/4/2016]

Beardyman Dream Team Sessions Electric Brixton Live Review 2016 LeeN Dizraeli Bellatrix Rob Lewis Ben Sarfas JFB Emre Ramazanoglu

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As I write these words, my mind is still fucking fried from last night. My neurons feel on strike, like my brain is being staffed by Tube drivers.

The parties to blame: Beardyman and his Dream Team.

Over the past year, Beardyman has evolved from a show-owning beatboxer to a bandleader with his sights set on musical revolution. Take it from me: Beardyman is well on his way to achieving that goal.

The Dream Team are one eight-headed, one-minded improvisational collective comprised of Beardyman (Beardytron 5000 MKfuckknowsbynow / Glorious Leader); world beatbox champion and double/electric bassist Bellatrix; turntablist JFB; saxophonist Ben Sarfas; cellist Rob Lewis; drummist Emre Ramazanoglu; and microphonist MCs Dizraeli and LeeN.

Alone, each one of the aforementioned is a monster musician. Together: Brain-meltingly immense, something else and infinitely more.

Their goal last night? The instantaneous creation of nothing less than a fully improvised live album. Song titles get picked from “The Bucket Of Truth,” located on the “Barstool Of Destiny,” located stage front, pen-and-paper word strings inspiring uncategorizable songs that never existed before they were written in the moment.

This is live music with no safety net. Not a note or syllable pre-prepared. Just short sentences written by thirsty bar-bound early arrivals, and the unspoken word go.

The band intros alone are worth the price of admission. Beardyman appears, jamming out a solo beatbox spot with a small-scale looping setup located a little too close to the floor before bringing in Emre Ramazanoglu and Bellatrix for a three-way beat battle. Each trio member compliments the others so well that you could only reasonably call it a tie.

For the Dream Team’s next trick, Beardyman unintentionally sexes up a mic stand while impersonating a double bass; Bellatrix tackles a real wood-and-nylon four-string; and Beardyman calls in flesh and blood sax player Ben Sarfas after a brief foray into brass-mimicking throat-and-mouth territory.

Improvised introductions continue as JFB demonstrates his equipment’s ability to live-sample any other Dream Team member in real time and scratch their contributions into warped other-dimensional immortality; Dream Team regular Rob Lewis shreds his cello’s neck as if the time has come for it to meet its maker; and Dizraeli and LeeN take over from Beardyman as the latter heads into the Beardytron’s cockpit and the former rip into Tory-bashing rhymes about Brixton’s gentrification.

Heavy stuff, but it’s still only the start. You need to know this about LeeN and Dizraeli: they go deep, they go fast, they go hard, and I just realised how pornographic this sentence is becoming but fuck it, it’s staying in. Such are the joys of being your own editor.

The song titles start coming. Thirty Cheese-Related Reasons (robo-funk); I’m Not Afraid Of Clowns (Donald Trump is Dizraeli’s clown of choice, as the MC cuts one of the world’s foremost fuckwits down over a katana-sharp series of bars); and Bubbles And Echoes, during which LeeN keeps things low-key while Dizraeli gets nerve-wrackingly real, digging into memories of his brother being admitted to casualty as a child, sacrificing pent-up ruminations on the altar of the all-encompassing flow.

This is not just entertainment. The Dream Team are no novelty act. The improv angle is no gimmick. It just makes things as unpredictable as real life is from day to day – and Dizraeli reminds Electric Brixton of that fact with 4K-grade clarity. Respect.

Kicking Back With Che. What would Che Guevara do with his leisure time? The Dream Team investigates, mulling over the possibilities before LeeN takes a more modern perspective, highlighting the need for support for the world’s stepped-on underdogs. Timely and potent, considering the UK’s present political climate.

Then, The Night Zoo (shout-outs to night terror sufferers and nocturnal city dwellers); Shame About The Umbrella (LeeN mulls over Superdry regrets before the band stretches out instrumentally); and a set-winning highlight for me in…

Work Is A Shit Drug, But I Need It. Dizraeli eviscerates workaholism, routine-driven afflictions, and the conveyor-belt rat race. Spellbinding passion, passing through catharsis and out the other side and into the realm of the truly world-class, every word woven together now.

Man alive.

Nearing the end, I Should’ve Thought Of This Yesterday. LeeN is on it immediately, referencing MacGyver and Back To The Future while Beardyman voyages into African tribal hooks and the full band falls full tilt into an extended jam session built around one word: Yesterday.

One word. That’s all the Dream Team needs. This was the kind of gig you wouldn’t believe had happened unless you were there. Like the moon landings, a fair few people who haven’t seen it happen in front of their own eyes will assume it’s faked somehow. The Dream Team shatter all illusions, one second, one metric subdivision at a time, and it is goddamn glorious.

Final tune: A Hint Of Catastrophe. Dizraeli comes up with commentary concerning Calais refugees and cultural fear before the Beardytron dies amid a MIDI disaster, committing digitised suicide and serving the song in the process. Beardyman joins Dizraeli and LeeN stage front to compensate and bring the set to a close.

Almost.

For the Dream Team’s encore, Beardyman summons up a song “…written ten seconds in the future,” which becomes Five Minutes Left.

Dizraeli poses the question, “What would you do if you had five minutes left?”

LeeN lists off his hypothetical life-ending bucket list.

And it’s all over.

One full-band bow, and the news that Beardyman and the Dream Team will be headlining Shambala this year.

That’s literally all Beardyman and the Dream Team wrote, direct from their hearts and minds and souls – and it was way, way more than enough. Keep your eyes peeled for the Dream Team’s next public appearance.

The revolution is coming.

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See you in the next video!

Beardyman official website.

Dizraeli official website.

LeeN on Twitter.

Bellatrix official website.

Rob Lewis on Twitter.

Ben Sarfas on Facebook.

JFB on Facebook and Twitter.

Emre Ramazanoglu official website.

Posted on 03 April 2016

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