Review: Zed Bias Retirement Tour @ Canal Mills
Having blessed our ears with countless productions and remixes for the past two decades, the time has finally come: Zed Bias is hanging up his headphones for good, truly an end of an era. The Manchester based DJ and producer announced his retirement earlier in the year provoking much disappointment to the many fans he’s accumulated over the years. Nevertheless, the forefather of UK Garage wanted to throw one last party for us before he started working on other projects; the development of a new label ‘Biasonic’ and even the creation of the Zed Bias Scholarship scheme at Manchester Midi School. His retirement tour played host to a number of artists consisting of Mele, Benton and Swamp 81 outfit Loefah and Chunky. They all came together to produce a night that would celebrate Zed’s illustrious career.
The night was hosted by Detonate, who are now in their 15th year. The Detonate crew have had a massive influence for promoting Drum n’ Bass, Grime and Bass music around Leeds, giving us an alternative to the more frequent house and techno nights that continuously pop up around present Leeds. The night was also organised and filmed by Champion Up North, an online organisation committed to promoting underground electronic events (as well as arts and culture) around the Leeds area. The combination of the experienced Detonate, the innovative Champion Up North, Zed Bias’ mixing expertise, and Canal Mills’ warehouse like atmosphere provided us with a night that was destined to be a success.
The surprise of the night was certainly Preditah’s set, who in recent years has become a rising star to come out of Grime. The Birmingham producer has become infamous for producing quality grime instrumentals, and is now the touring DJ for Skepta, a figurehead of Grime. His set delved into a number of genre’s flirting with Jackin’ House, Bass and of course the sounds of grime which was welcomed by the crowd as one his best tracks ‘Vinyls VIP’ was the hit of the night, raising many a gun finger to the sky. As the night was a dedication to the works of Zed pseudonym Maddslinky, garage was prominent throughout the night. This was reflected in Preditah’s set as he dropped his remix of Chase And Status’ ‘Blk & Blu’, and Garage classic ‘138 Trek’ by Zinc. Looking at the line-up Preditah’s name didn’t stand out amongst the pioneers that were playing, yet his quick transitions and bass heavy drops made him shine out.
If there was going to be one Mancunian man to MC a Zed Bias gig it would be Chunky. Swamp 81 has recently played a large part in Zed’s career, releasing his album ‘Boss’ on the label last November. Chunky’s infamous resonating accent is now a regular on any Zed Bias mix, as seen on his amazing Boiler Room set. Chunky was primarily MC’ing over fellow Swamp 81 affiliate and founder, Loefah, whose transition from the sub base driven dubstep has made him big. Yet Loefah has found it difficult sticking and committing to one genre. This was evident when he set failed to lift the crowd, unlike the ‘new kids on the block’ Preditah and Mele.
Unsurprisingly Zed Bias’ set did not disappointment. Having heard his surprise set at the Subdub Freshers party playing b2b with fellow Manchester born Paleman, I was sure that his retirement tour set was going to be a hit with the crowds. And it certainly was. For the hour he played, he alternated across a number of styles and genres that he’d been a part of in the past, as if this was his final goodbye to all the great artists that he’d come across throughout his long career. One example of him combining two of the genres that got him where he is today was Digital Mystikz’s ‘Anti War Dub’ dropped on the back of a 90s garage tune. Despite the odd characters in the crowd that deemed it acceptable to mosh pit to the sounds of Benton, the night was a hit and was a fitting end to the legend that is Zed Bias.
Author: James Bate
Photos: Detonate Photography
Clip: Youtube – Zed Bias Boiler Room DJ Set