The Mad Professor / Mr Benn & Souls Liberation / The Trixsters

Carling Academy - Oxford on Mon 18th Feb 2008

It was with some trepidation that I stepped back into the Carling Academy in Oxford. My last visit was prior to the takeover and refit, and I was worried that it was going to lose some of the spark and personality. I need not have been concerned. The new sound system was the first apparent change. The dub coming out of it from the warm up DJ was producing the kind of bass that tugged at clothes, rearranged internal organs and almost pulled us into a dance. The lick of paint wasn't the only other change, an additional bar closer to the stage (obviously selling overpriced Carling) and an improved lighting rig were other noticeable additions.

After a brief wait, we were introduced to The Trixsters, 2 young protégés of the Mad Professor's Ariwa studio. Their first job was to get us all fired up for the man himself. An opportunity they jumped at and soon had us all chanting for him to come and join the party. As soon as he stepped on stage, The Mad Professor's huge presence and infectious smile spread across the crowd warming us through with some blissful deep dub beats. Generous helpings of rum were being poured into the bouncing crowd down at the front and helped to increase the happy atmosphere.

After a couple of tracks, we were getting into the swing of things when another guest joined the merry band on stage. Takashi from Japan settled in with his melodica adding further depth to the over all sound. At times, the impression was that this was a jam session taking place in deep space with effects supplied from a galaxy far far away. Skipping drum beats – similar to the noise of a runaway train, phasers, reverb and echoes added to classic dub formula that has kept Mad Professor (AKA Neil Fraser) busy releasing and producing records for over 25 years.

His experience at keeping a captive audience was evident, slowing the pace a little back to some dancehall or roots when we were starting to flag, and then working back up to the more familiar frantic pace. The original masters of some of his work with Horace Andy and Massive Attack got a welcome airing ensuring that there were no frowns to be seen. Some of his more recent collaborations with The Trixsters and Joe Ariwa also got a great reception. Half way through the set it was competition time. We stopped for a brief questions and answers session while latest releases were given out as prizes. Then, back to the serious business of dancing.

With a history as rich and varied as his, fans expect to be wowed by The Mad Professor. Working with artists such as Massive Attack, The Orb, Lindy Layton, Jah Shaka, Sade, Lee 'Scratch' Perry and Horrace Andy (the list really does go on), his pedigree could come back to haunt him if he wasn't on top form. Fortunately for us, he was.

We continued into the early hours with Mr Benn & Souls Liberation picking up where The Mad Professor and friends had left off. A great evening all round. If you get the chance, go and see them.

article by: James Tayler

published: 18/02/2008 13:30


sorry, we currently have no gigs listed for this act.