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Review: Fritz Kalkbrenner at Electric Brixton, London, 28th February

Tour finale ends with a bang.

This weekend saw Fritz Kalkbrenner conclude his mammoth European tour in support of his new artist album Ways Over Water at London's much lauded Electric Brixton, and what a fine conclusion it was.

It's been a long time now since Fritz stepped out of his older brother Paul's shadow and established himself as a major draw on the clubbing circuit and Saturday's party was a testament to this, with Electric Brixton's large main room already heaving at midnight as Modulism finished their well-received opening set and handed over to Tender Games. The German duo proceeded to deliver an hour of warm, uplifting beats complimented by some excellent live keyboard noodling and singing that served as the perfect appetiser to Herr Kalkbrenner's main course. The crowd's reaction was very appreciative, surprisingly so for this early in the night, and with the dancefloor becoming ever busier as Fritz's set drew near, we ventured into the middle to enjoy the full force of the soundsystem and visuals.

A short pause before Fritz took centre stage added an extra spark to the already crackling atmosphere which then ignited as he made his appearance and laid down the first beats. If you've never seen Fritz Kalkbrenner perform live there's an important part of it you may not know about, he sings throughout - and it's absolutely brilliant! I first witnessed this in Pacha Ibiza when, ignorant about this aspect of his performance, I was completely bowled over as Fritz started singing as he was spinning. All of this was enhanced by the fact he never took the cigar he was puffing away on out of his mouth, singing out of one corner and smoking out of the other; now that's DJing. Unfortunately, London's stricter smoking laws meant we weren't treated to this remarkable sight on this occasion but Fritz's ability behind the mic more than made up for it.

As you'd expect when touring an album, there were plenty of tracks from it being given an airing, with the highlight being the deep and atmospheric beats of Every Day that followed the obligatory Sky and Sand with its accompanying mass sing-along (also a highlight). Tune of the night though had to be Wes, a darker, techier cut that inspired a huge reaction when its bass line kicked in. Fritz moved easily between differing shades of light and dark, but always within his signature sound; a kind of warm, uplifting yet melancholy loveliness with powerful but subtle drums and his own dulcet vocals. Whilst he may have let the ambient sections between tracks stretch a little too long, this did little to harm the atmosphere of a crowd cheering at every appearance of the kick drum and hanging on his every word.

After taking his bow and soaking up the adulation, the reins were handed back to Modulism, who kicked off their closing set in a similar vein with The Space Between Us by Dominik Eulberg & Gabriel Ananda before veering off into darker, heavier realms for the late shift with selections like Maceo Plex's Conjure Dreams showing us the way.

Saturday showed that Fritz Kalkbrenner is firmly established in the top tier now and with performances like that, he'll be a fixture for a long time to come.

WORDS | Andrew Fulker PHOTOGRAPHY | Electric Brixton, Joeo

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