Take a large dose of electro, add in some swing, a pinch of dubstep, a smattering of funk, and a touch of calypso; then throw in some ska, a bit of dancehall, a touch of jungle, and a healthy amount of drum ‘n’ bass, and you’ve got The Correspondents.
It sounds like it would never work, but actually it’s a rare kind of brilliant.
With live performance at the heart of what they do, the Correspondents have been touring since 2007 and picking up fans along the way, with a chunk of their devoted following made up of people who once stumbled into a tent at a festival to shelter from the rain, and ended up staying to dance all night.
They’ve been described as “hip hop swing” or “electro swing”, but their music is pretty much impossible to categorise. Every track sounds completely different, and their gigs are always going to be value for money as you’ll walk away feeling like you’ve seen about seven different bands in one.
Although the genre of their music is impossible to define, and their real names elusive, what is certain is that this band put on an excellent live show.
Just as it is a rare talent for huge bands to make an arena feel like an intimate pub gig, so it is an equal skill to create a stadium atmosphere in a small and dark east London performance space. But The Correspondents pulled it off.
Impressive visuals worthy of a much larger band (the video for their new track Inexplicable won Best Visionary Award at the Austin Music Video Festival), combined with Mr Bruce’s flamboyant stage presence plus the energy of the crowd made Shoreditch’s Village Underground seem a whole lot bigger.
The south London duo, made up of Mr Bruce, the charismatic singer and MC, and DJ and producer Chucks, have recently expanded their live shows to include drummers, bassists – and even an organist.
They were joined at Village Underground by drummer Holly Madge who added a welcome extra dimension, particularly to the drum’n’bass tracks that dominated the tail end of the set.
Not a foot was still on the dancefloor as The Correspondents played firm favourites What’s Happened To Soho and Fear and Delight, while Inexplicable also had the crowds bouncing.
In a Correspondents first, their track What Did I Do, which speaks of worst fears coming true, was paired with a video Mr Bruce had produced in memory of his deceased twin brother.
Again, the sombre theme of the track coupled with the upbeat nature of The Correspendent’s music shoudn’t work in theory – but it does.
As the set reached its crescendo, Mr Bruce – by now stripped of his custom-made tracksuit top, and down to just a vest – dived into the buzzing crowds, with dozens of hands reaching up to carry him towards to back of the room – and back again to the stage.
It was a fun set, it was an energetic set, it was an immersive set, and it was suitably well-received. Their fans have a lot of love for The Correspondents, but what is even better is that The Correspondents love them back.
Chucks and Mr Bruce had hand-signed hundreds of limited edition posters, which were given out at the end, and raffle tickets were handed out at the beginning, with two lucky fans winning pieces of their limited edition artwork.
That’s what makes this band so special – the fact that they are completely unique not only in their music, but also in their level of creativity, their emphasis on the visual as well as the acoustic, and the effort that they go to to ensure everyone has a bloody good time.