The 26thof October saw the fourth and final Outlook Orchestra show of 2017 taking East London by storm. Held at The Troxy – one of London’s grandest concert venues – the show was a commemoration of Outlook Festival’s 10thanniversary of audacious sound system partying. The ambitious celebration of the UK’s sound system and bass culture manifested in a 100-minute, nonstop, genre-juggling mix, that featured a 20-piece live orchestra and a huge melting pot of MC’s and musicians – literally too many to list – that included sound-system heavyweights Congo Natty, Dawn Penn, Jehst and General Levy.
Opener, reggae old-timer, Horace Andy sets the tone for the night with his groovy ‘Skylarking’, featuring a killer sax solo. Veteran junglist, General Levy, gets the crowd stomping to his pumping rendition of ‘Incredible’. Casually lighting some incense on stage, jungle legend Congo Natty, flanked by vocalists Nãnci and Phoebe, then revs up the beat and the heat with the likes of ‘Get Ready’ and ‘Nu Beginingz’.
Backing every track are the Outlook Orchestra, led by Submotion Orchestra’s head, Tommy Evans and trumpeter/ arranger Matt Roberts. Promoting their upcoming festival in Croatia, the orchestra provides a binding agent that sails the audience through jungle classics, snippets of grime and murky dubstep. Aside from jazzing up the event and blowing each track up ten times bigger, the orchestra themselves were a performance to behold. One could often catch the violinists and cellists standing on their chairs in the back and waving their bows to tunes, in between turns to play.
Admittedly, the jazzier bits of the 100-minute gig might have felt slightly out of place to attendees present for hardcore sound system vibes, but both Jenna G and Ruby Wood exhibited vocals in turn delicate and ethereal.
Highlights of the night include the crowd-stomping performance of the night’s excitable MC, MC Jila from Gentleman’s Dub Club, who performed a banging extended remix of ‘High Grade’ while running and jumping and dancing all up and down the stage. The orchestra recitals of dubstep classics from the likes of Burial and Skream also undoubtedly brought some of the audience back to the late-night raves of their younger days. Grandest of all, though, had to be the dazzling Dawn Penn, whose soulful croons of “No, no, no, you don’t love me, and I know now”, had the audience both completely enraptured and jiving to the beat.
From reggae, to electronica, to dubstep, grime and jazz, the Outlook Orchestra show had much to offer for everyone who has a love for sound system and bass culture. When all the artists of the night took stage for a final bow, it was truly a sight to behold. It was only seeing the congregation of so many legends of various subgenres on the same stage, that it truly hit home what the final Outlook Orchestra show really was – a never-before-seen glorious ode to all of sound system culture.
Photo credits: Troxy