Custard Factory, Birmingham on Fri 28th Aug 2009

Arriving just in time for Benga's set, it took me a second to get over the institutionalised molestation and robbery that is getting into the Custard Factory and buying a drink once you're in there. Soon enough, though, I was 'steppin' away along with the few hundred bodies in the main room. Benga played a wide range of songs: classics from his album 'Diary of an Afro Warrior', like 26 basslines, which despite its relative age went down perfectly proving that he has longevity as a producer; as well as currently unreleased tracks like Emalkay's 'When I Look at You'. Clearly the crowd were loving it, which meant I became suddenly aware of the venue's faults.

Let me explain: This particular room is made for rock music, so there is a stage taking up a large portion of the front of it. To allow more numbers, though, the organisers put the DJ right at the back of this stage and allow the crowd to get onto it. This means, during particularly heavy drops being near the edge becomes an increasingly precarious situation. Not only that but you also feel as though you're dancing for an audience which can be slightly off putting. The sound system isn’t anything to get excited about either. Perhaps I was just too sober.

Finding a more secure position, I settled back into the music and did really like it. When playing without Skream, Benga seems less inclined to rewind every song. Though he did do it a fair amount, much to annoyance of the MC, it was sparing enough to not to infuriate. Enjoyable as it was seeing the MC shout "Don't F*&% me off!" at the DJ, I'm afraid he added little else. Dressed in military uniform, the only times I remembered noticing him was when I realised he'd been droning "I've lost my mind" over and over again, making me want to un-notice him again very quickly. Thankfully he wasn't loud and obnoxious enough to detract too much attention from Benga so my enjoyment of the set was unshaken.

After Benga left, and I'd decided I was definitely too sober to enjoy the more demanding electro that came on after, I resolved to check out the other room before I started home. This proved a disappointing endeavour. Whereas usually the 'Kitchen' is where the other music is played, this time it was outside by the fountain. This meant was that it was harder to hear and there was a continuous flow of people trying to get passed you, leaving you with the choice of whether to completely give up on dancing or try and incorporate this people dodging into your already awkward repertoire moves.

That said, I was there to review Benga and he delivered. It is just a shame that The Factory Club is the best venue that Birmingham has to offer. If given the choice, go and see Benga in Manchester or London.

article by: Robert Knowles

published: 02/09/2009 09:19


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