Groove Armada: Dance music legends bring super style to their twilight voyage
The babysitters have been booked, the Friday morning sick calls have been fully rehearsed, the hangover remedies have been pre-emptively laid out on kitchen islands. O2 Academy Leeds is packed with old-school ravers raring to go like it’s the last night of their lives. And why not? After all, this is likely the final chance they have to see Groove Armada perform a fully live show.
To celebrate a hugely successful 25 years since their debut, the dance legends are going out with a bang with a farewell tour. The duo, consisting of Tom Findlay and Andy Cato, defined the sound of the dancefloor for a generation alongside the likes of Basement Jaxx, Moloko and The Chemical Brothers. Throughout their genre-defying 8 album discography, they infuse floor fillers with flavours of trip-hop, funk and jungle to create music that is as at home in a sweaty house party basement as it is on a sun-soaked Ibiza beach. As sad it is to see them go, the crowd can’t wait to watch them leave.
As expected, the night’s setlist has its focus on the fan favourites rather than deeper cuts. With hits like ‘Look Me in the Eye Sister’, ‘My Friend’, and ‘Song 4 Mutya’ smartly starting proceedings, the room is invigorated from the offset.
Three singers share the responsibility of vocals, switching out individually for each song. Saint Saviour, complete with a tartan kilt and pigtails like a rave-ready Pippi Longstocking, covers the stomping house tracks while throwing her body into theatrically poised shapes. Veba punches iron-lunged power into the duo’s soulful electronica. M.A.D. acts as the hypeman, MCing over breakbeats and bringing the vigorous energy of an after-hours party. Each vocalist excels in their own style and highlights the impressive breadth of Groove Armada’s sound. This variety is also what propels the show forward, sometimes in unexpected ways. M.A.D. filling the shoes of Gramma Funk on irresistible Big Beat anthem ‘I See You Baby’ was a particular delight.
After a night of bleeping synths and pumping four-to-the-floor beats, the call of a trombone signals the encore with the opening riffs of downtempo house anthem ‘At The River’. By the time the intro of show closer ‘Superstylin’ rolls around, the crowd are practically rabid.
This swansong may have been a no-frills affair but, by relying on the strength of their crowd-pleasing catalogue, Groove Armada were able to deliver a lively and consistent send-off. This armada may be on its twilight voyage, but this is how you dock for the last time in super style.