Music review: Stereo MCs, Barras Art and Design, Glasgow

Thirty years on from their early Nineties heyday, Stereo MCs can still capture the essence of that era’s crossover optimism, writes Fiona Shepherd

Stereo MC’s, Barras Art and Design, Glasgow ****

At the height of their success in the early Nineties, Nottingham’s Stereo MC’s straddled musical tribes, bringing together hip-hop, soul, funk and dance music in an infectious voodoo gumbo.

Thirty years on, their fans are mostly middle-aged ravers and former indie kids who have kept the faith with the enthusiasm, if not quite the energy of the band themselves, who appeared pickled in festival spirit.

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Frontman Rob Birch, still whippet thin and wiry, remains a shamanic presence, a natural born hippy in utilitarian gear, climbing the speaker stacks, whipping the crowd into an excitable mass and literally singing from his gut at one point, holding the microphone to his torso as part of the ritual of Elevate My Mind.

Drummer Owen If sadly passed away last year but Birch is still backed by fellow founder member, DJ/producer Nick Hallam, the modest vibe controller at the back, and flanked by vocalist Cath Coffey – like Birch, frozen in time, exuding attitude, belief and commitment as she unleashed the “I wanna go higher” refrain to the rafters of the warehouse-like main room of Barras Art and Design.

The conga-led dub fest of On 33 was the essence of early Nineties crossover optimism while the come-together message of their anthem Connected, dropped in the middle of the set, is a fresh rallying cry for each generation or struggle.

Much of the set centred on the Connected album, with all its singles represented from the call-to-vigilance that is Ground Level (Stereo MC’s want to keep you grounded as much as lift your spirit) to the Tigger bounce of Creation, while the funky Step It Up was initially pared back and built up on congas, with the energy mounting as the volume and vibrations ramped up.

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