Dizraeli & Downlow Review
Tonight is the second date of the ‘Leroy Merlin’ tour. Bristol-raised rapper, singer and multi-instrumentalist Dizraeli is known for fusing hip-hop with roots music such as folk and for the integrity behind his lyrics. He and fellow ex-Small Gods member and DMC finalist DJ Downlow have just released a new EP and mixtape, both with the same title as the tour.
The first act on stage this evening is Yazmyn Hendrix who provides a soulful warm-up. She uses a loop pedal to layer her powerfully enchanting vocals, lush harmonies, haunting voice effects and beatboxing. We’re treated to a passionate cover of Massive Attack’s ‘Teardrop’ which she manages to really make her own.
Spoken Herd members Gramski, Jon Clark and Katie Matey are the second support act to follow. Together they bring a thoroughly entertaining and interactive show to the stage with their witty freestyle rap jams. The set peaks when they leave the stage to walk amongst the crowd, asking for a girl’s name to set the character of one of the songs. Amongst the suggestions is the chosen name Hannah. They then ask what her surname should be and the answer selected is Miles. It’s Hannah Miles’ dream to get somewhere. But where, though? Jamaica. Once the basic plot to the song is set the beat kicks in and Hannah’s story unfolds. By now the audience are hyped and fully engaged.
When Dizraeli and Downlow take to the stage for their headline set they seem to radiate charismatic eccentricity. The setup is Dizraeli complete with mic in hand and a separate mic stand which is linked to an effects pedal he hits to create delay on his voice. Behind him is Downlow in front of the decks, showing impressive scratching skills throughout the set.
Also on stage is a mannequin with a native American headdress made from crows’ feathers that we recognise from the cover of the new EP, mixtape and tour poster. We assume this has something to do with Leroy Merlin. Word has it he was somehow key in the production of the new releases, but who he is exactly remains a mystery. At one stage, Dizraeli brandishes a bottle of high quality rum in honour of him and announces he wants to share it round the crowd “unless you have a cold sore”. It never makes its way round to us although we don’t mind, preferring to stick to beer. We appreciate the sentiment of this gesture of togetherness very much, though.
They start their set with an epic lightshow introduction before starting things off with ‘John the Baptist’ from the new EP. What follows is plenty of classic tunes that fans of the Small God days should fondly remember, interwoven with exclusive new tracks. There is a healthy dose of interaction with the crowd who are encouraged to repeat the lyrics back in true hip-hop style.
Towards the end they cover Roots Manuva’s ‘Witness (1 Hope)’ with Dizraeli’s own lyrics over the well-known floor-filler of a beat before the duo thank the crowd and leave the stage, leaving us eager for an encore. Sure enough, they obligingly return and perform ‘Minnie the Moocher (Hideously Kinky version)’ from the ‘Everyone’s a Winner’ mixtape. We echo the old jazz lyrics “Hi-dee hi-dee hi-dee hi” back at Dizraeli and he instructs Downlow to “Scratch that sh*t up” which has everyone jiving.
The Old Market, Saturday 19th March 2017
Photos by Cat Gillison