John Heckle in London

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  • London has seen a number of ambitious new promotions rise from the ashes of clubland this year. Perhaps tired of the warehouse scene and the growing uncertainty that surrounds those venues, promoters are looking back to traditional club spaces to host their events, and bringing back the flyer and poster publicity format to reach new audiences. One such outfit is Thunder, the brainchild of ex-Haywire DJ and London techno veteran Rick Hopkins, fellow promoter Miles Simpson and DJ Joseph Apted. The trio took over Dalston's Visions nightspot for the second time this year with Mathematics Recordings' John Heckle heading the bill, posing a serious challenge to the raft of easy-come-easy-go bar raves taking place in the area. Those who grew up in England, and perhaps elsewhere in the world, will remember a time in the early 90's where the local community centre was very often the closest to a club you would find in an area. So it didn't feel at all odd—in fact, quite the opposite—to be raving in a space that is from time to time used not only for raves but also for wedding receptions and Bar Mitzvahs, with all the traditional community centre trimmings like a smoke machine, a laser and a series of video screens showing the New Dance Show. Despite being a large space, Thunder succeeded in packing out the venue and the atmosphere throughout was superb. Joseph Apted warmed the crowd up with some choice Chicago cuts and a range of recent tributes to that era from people like Paul Bennett of Modernista Recordings. John Heckle's recent album on Mathematics has been well received, another paean to the 707 drum machine and Roland synthesizers of times past with a modern edge. For his Thunder set, he succeeded in translating that sound to a live context, DJing with vinyl and somehow synchronizing his 707 to the set to create ruff, raw edits of a selection of obscure house, with cuts from Boo Williams amongst it. Hopkins and Simpson then took over for the last hours, representing their numerous credentials via tracks from Moodymann and Basic Channel. Unfortunately, the night was not without a final twist when it was revealed on Sunday that John Heckle's record bag containing 12-inches from his collection had been stolen during his journey home. Nevertheless, it was a superb second effort from Thunder, a night to watch for in 2012.