- After a hectic UK tour, Beardyman, AKA Darren Foreman, was back in his native north London for the official launch of his debut LP, the admittedly childish I Done a Album. Much to his manager's dismay, however, he ditched the notion of promoting and performing album tracks, instead embarking on a few fun hours of inspired improvisation with his mouth, a piano, some Kaoss pads and pedals.
Photo credit: Aziza Azul
It was only his support act, the fine turntablist JFB, that made any attempt to promote the record, intersecting his set with some of the sillier skits from the album. JFB whipped the rapidly growing Camden crowd into a frenzy with an exemplary party mix of hip-hop, dubstep and electro, accompanied by some deft visual scratching of action movie montages.
The hirsute beat-box extraordinaire eventually strode on to the stage to rapturous applause, introducing himself in what was presumably Hebrew, before pointing out his mum and dad in the crowd. Soon he was off on a hyperactive sonic journey, beat-boxing elements of songs into the mic, then looping them using his array of samplers and layering extras over the top. He began with jacked up interpretations of hip-hop favourites from Dizzee Rascal, Public Enemy and KRS One, before switching to a section of "amazing but shit" dubstep, featuring a wobbly version of Radio 4's shipping forecast.
Photo credit: Aziza Azul
This morphed into The Chemical Brothers "It Doesn't Matter" and back down to Saint Etienne's "Only Love Can Break Your Heart." The set exemplified his love and knowledge of dance music as well as his self-confessed musical ADHD, continuing to swing from a fine rendition of James Blake's "Limit to Your Love" to a drum & bass homage via gabba, polka and Prodigy.
What separates Beardyman from other beat-boxers and party DJs is his sense of humour. (While studying in Brighton he became part of an improvised comedy sketch group and has since starred in his own freestyle comedy show in the Udderbelly tent at the Edinburgh Festival and London's South Bank with his stand-up brother Jay, comedian Reggie Watts and a live band.) As the gig neared its peak, the silliness increased with magic tricks of vocal dexterity, crowd interaction song creation and an encore combating the seriousness of the world with a mini helicopter flight to the theme tune of Airwolf. In this age where "live" dance music often constitutes of a bloke fiddling around behind his laptop, it's refreshing to see someone bring some genuine showmanship to the stage.