Die Shellsuit, Die!

An Alternative Music Magazine

21st October 2009 - Leeds O2 Academy

Calvin Harris

Anyone would think I’ve been purposely trying to miss Calvin Harris.

I had a chance to see him at some hideously expensive evening, at the Custard Factory in Birmingham but the alcohol took over. I missed him at Creamfields, although that was entirely his fault for going on stage early. Then later didn’t hang around for a token performance during the Dizzee Rascal performance, which I suspect the majority were really only there to see.

So what this time? Surely no obstacles, giving that I’d actually asked to go?

If I was a superstitious man, I’d say my knee ligaments snapping the evening before might be something of an omen. Thank God then for seating at the Academy, not for the fact it’s upstairs. See this Calvin, its commitment. I’ll have none of that nonsense you pulled when people had the audacity to express an opinion that the latest album wasn’t an electronic epiphany.

Which means I might as well get my grumbles in early, firstly through no fault of Calvin Harris had this been summer I would have been home before it got dark such was the rush to get the venue turned over for the themed night later. Obviously I have no lofty ideals of the Academy group, but still can’t help feel a little disappointed over the condensed nature of the evening. I’ll leave my secondly, to become apparent.

Calvin Harris has the sort of appeal which gets money men at labels salivating. ‘Crossover’ (it is right up there with ‘Universal’ and ‘Tween’). The ‘I’m Not Alone’ behemoth played as happily on MTV2 channel as it did on dance orientated ones. Although perhaps this wasn’t really an appropriate example, because it was probably being played on Classic FM too, such was its exposure. 2007’s ‘I Created Disco’ introduced the irreverent Harris to the world. Mixed between the hits were more kooky tracks delivered with the sort of po-faced seriousness that Jack Dee would have been proud of.

His latest, ‘Ready For The Weekend’ is a shift away from the sound on ‘I Created Disco’. If anything it’s got more in common with the debuts titled than the debut itself. Harris has gone straight for the jugular and tried for the sort of ‘Stadium Dance’ which Scooter does with ease for those wacky Europeans*. Here in lies my problem with it all. When Harris gets it right, then he nails it. ‘Acceptable in the 80s’, ‘Girls’ and ‘Dance Wiv Me’ go down a treat. Unfortunately they only go to highlight the weakness of lesser tracks.

At times it sounds a little more like Blackpool than the Balearics, not that it bothers the partisan crowd. Which Harris manages to direct with consummate ease in an enterprising showman role. Closer ‘I’m Not Alone’ nearly takes the roof off but I can’t help feel that Harris is perhaps a little light on A-grade material to give a consistent high.

* I, in no way condone subjecting Scooter to anyone or indeed am comparing Calvin Harris to him.

Listen: www.calvinharris.co.uk