Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1084

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Arrested Development: Barbican 13/10/10

Arrested Development @Barbican 13/10/10
Arrested Development @Barbican 13/10/10 Arrested Development @Barbican 13/10/10

Arrested development rolled into town and were determined to show that they weren't yesterday's heroes. Everybody loved their debut album â3 years, 5 months & 2 days in the life ofâ¦â ( apparently the time it, it took for the band to get signed) but they had split in '96 and I for one was not aware they were still around!

But before I go onto this let me just mention support act rapper
Mensa a highly engaging fellow with his own twist on hip life (hip hop meets hi-life). Originally from Ghana, which he likes to mention several times, this spirited performer slowly won the room over with his solid grooves, courtesy of a live band and sheer likeability. Spitting rhymes about "warming up his plaintain" and obviously his love of Ghana did the trick and I for one urge you to check him out. I liked his fresh approach and he's definately got some great material and winning ways.

It took all of 30 seconds for Arrested Development to get the crowd up and dancing. Kicking off with an audacious sample of the Who's 'Who Are You' was all it took to get the excitement levels up there, segueing into 'We Rad We Doin It' from the bandâs refreshing new album âStrongâ. A definate nod towards the black eyed peas pure pop sensibility but no doubt a great way to start a show.

Dancer Montsho Eshe showed no signs of jet lag (they'd literally stepped off the plane from LA) throwing herself round the stage with rump shaking booty baring boldness and flinging her long limbs asunder. She was keen to bring her four pennyworth to the party and the crowd lapped it up. Yes it was carnival time and leader "Speech" bespectacled and looking like a funky college don did the usual hip hop routine loads of call and response stuff "Hands in the air like you don't care" you know the stuff... to maximum effect, it was hard to believe I was in the Barbican and not Brixton academy! The band bolstered by live bass, drums and guitar as well as their sampled box of tricks brought in a euphoric state to the large hall exuding boundless energy and positivity. We were literally being lovebombed!

The new album was rinsed too with the likes of the poppy 'The World Is Changing' (which sounded suspiciously like 'Um Bop' by the Hanson Bros!) a crowd pleasing groove that should win them some new fans and my favourite from 'Strong' the punky 'Let Your Voice Be Heard' sounded even better with the chunky guitar floating on top of it. 'Bloody' too typifies their brand of black popular music as a positive moral force and is intensified by the live heavy syncopated bassline.

No AD show would be complete without their hits and they made us wait but come they did like a tidal wave or a levee breaking. Tasha Larae showed what an excellent singer she really is, shining on 'Tennessee' with a fervour and intensity of soul that few can match. By the time 'Everyday People' kicked in, the place was in meltdown! All the people came together different ages, different creeds and nationalities bound by AD's love and their musical stance against oppression and racism. Multiracial, multicultural and multi talented AD are back go check their new album and feel the spiritual high these guys are capable of giving.......
Words Emrys Baird

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