As Jamie Lidell started into his Neumos set Monday night, he recalled the Multiply tour, where at his Neumos stop back in 2006, he wore a leopard print suit that was blistering hot on stage. Here, he was dressed more akin to an R&B Dr. Who, with a dark full body coat over a simple v-neck. But the man underneath the garb held the same pioneering drive he did all those years ago, and Jamie Lidell’s set in support of the new self-titled record was as strong and as progressive as anything he’s ever offered us. Praising the “old school Lidell fans” along with the new ones, Lidell threw a fantastic party that visited nearly all of his styles in one way or another. It was a grab bag of fun that showed what a chameleon of the art he truly is. Along with New York based tour supporters Empress Of and Ludwig Persik, Lidell brought Seattle a night of dance unlike any other to start the week off.
Ludwig Persik began the night off with a wide variety of soundscapes in his diverse set. Persik played a gorgeous Fender guitar while his laptop provided accompaniment. Persik noted that he’s been working with Lidell on building his live tracks – it really shows. The tracks helped build Persik’s presence immensely on stage while keeping the focus on his spacious vocals and pretty excellent guitar work. His tracks range from nu wave glory to the vaudeville essence of late 60s David Bowie, and cover just about everywhere in between. A diverse mixture of sounds and influences, Persik’s music provided an excellent backdrop for Jamie, the night’s master of stylistic diversity.
New York experimental pop band Empress Of followed up Persik’s set with a great collection of their latest. The band put out a new EP, Systems, this week on Terrible records, and generally, they mix an eclectic mixture of world dance and experimental songwriting for a pretty unique experience. Empress Of are still developing their live presence, but there is a lot of potential here for a truly excellent live experience. Lead Lorely Rodriguez is all over the place on a synthesizer, a sampler, and on the vocals, while her band mans more synth and drums. A perfect segway into Lidell’s set, the band will definitely be one to watch in the coming year.
Jamie Lidell came onstage with a pretty straightforward agenda. He waved and received plenty of applause then walked up to the front of the stage and shook hands with about a dozen people. After getting comfortable behind his spaceship of a table, he went to work and got the party started. The skittering synthesizers and shimmering drums of “I’m Selfish”, the Jamie Lidell opening track, reach their full potential in the live setting. After all, the 90’s R&B vibe he’s trying to capture on the record belong on the dance floor, so naturally, everything he’s throwing down sounds delightful. But once a couple new tracks fade. Lidell piles into a refurbished version of Multiply classic “A Little Bit More”, all still manually triggered like it was back in 2006, but with a fresh coat of 90’s throwback paint. Similar treatments get thrown on Compass tracks “Your Sweet Boom” and “I Wanna Be Your Telephone”, but nothing beat Jamie’s own 90’s rave remix of Multiply track “When I Come Back Around”, which had the house off their feet completely.
Surprising to some of the audience, Lidell hardly played a single track off of his well-loved retro soul record Jim – the only exception he made was for a hardly recognizable hard remix of “Another Day”. But Lidell has never been one to rely on his past work for future solidification, and to be honest, the Jim tracks seem so distant from where he is at this point as a writer that they would have been out of place in this context. That being said, Lidell did return to a couple classics that meshed better with his new vibe – namely “Multiply” and “Music Will Not Last”. But even heavy on the new tracks, the crowd was in love, and for good reason. Lidell threw a fantastic party that won’t be forgotten any time soon. In the full realization of his new artistic turn, Lidell proved to us once again that constantly reinventing yourself is perhaps the best way to maintain your artistic integrity and your drive towards perfection.