The Jazz Cafe in Camden is a venue that oozes class, having hosted jazz artists of the highest pedigree. Nonetheless, it was an immense pleasure to witness the youthful Are We Live ensemble take centre stage. For those who aren’t aware, Are We Live is a collective of four artists; Jordan Rakei, Tom Misch, Barney Artist and Alfa Mist. Let’s put it this way, when they did a live show last year it was a big deal. This year, it was a huge deal.
Here’s the breakdown:
The dynamic between the four artists was what made the show so special, each performer bringing their own sound to the stage. Whilst we could reel off an essay on each artist, here’s a few highlights from the evening.
Alfa Mist kicked off the evening with his keys-based, dark sound. Supported by a drummer, bassist and guitarist; his soulful and instrumental-heavy selection of songs set the tone of the evening as one of unrushed quality music.
Barney Artist was next up and did the sterling job of acting as a pseudo hype man. Performing in front of his extended family, his infectious enthusiasm brought with it what Barney himself described as ‘wedding reception vibes’ as he got the whole crowd two-stepping to his animated and fluid hip-hop.
Tom Misch stepped up to an enormous reception. His lighter, melodic performance keeping the crowd’s energy up. Dilla-esque beats interwoven with luscious guitar licks and orchestral strings provided the ultimate groove. We were even treated to his unreleased and much anticipated ‘South of the River’.
Jordan Rakei closed off the evening with a refined performance of tracks that showcased his darker and deeper funk-infused jazz. His performances of ‘Blame it on the youth’ and ‘The light’ were nothing short of stunning as he drew the evening to a close.
After what effectively sounded like one one long jam-session from this talented group, we were left with nothing but respect for the Are We Live collective. You couldn’t help but feel that we’d been treated to only a small fraction of what these guys have to offer. In a year’s time we may even struggle to get them all in one room; but in the meantime we can but hope.