Azari & III – Heaven, London 02/02/12
Originally posted on The 405
In the summer of 2011, I had the fortune of getting the opportunity to see two groundbreaking acts that ultimately (and deservedly) illuminated many Album of the Year lists, in Azari & III and Nicolas Jaar – at Melt! Festival in rural old-East Germany. Though I then had the misfortune of missing both – the reasons somewhere between heinous stage clashes and festival excess shown in my etiolated, confused face. It has somewhat haunted me since.
2nd February 2012, and Azari and III are in town… as in Nicolas Jaar. In separate venues. Each for one night only. As you may have guessed given the screaming large footed header above, I made the decision to opt for the Toronto quartet of Azari & III, though carrying a pang of guilt to Heaven for missing the prodigal undulated talent of Jaar.
Once inside the underground brick-worked Fabric-esque lair amongst the throng of fantastically groomed haircuts, the bubbling, carnivorous excitement is palpable; reputation preceding, thanks to a stonking debut self-titled album from Dinamo Azari and Alixander III featuring master strokes of heavily-indebted Chicago house good times. The mainly instrumental number of Tunnel Vision opens the eve at a typically early Heaven start; God damn you Heaven, I would be mad at you but you posses such a luscious sound system I can’t. And hell, an early night is actually kinda nice these days too.
Then for the second track the dancers enter stage left and right, and the stars of the show Fritz Helder and Cedric Gasiada start to strut their crowd-pleasing stuff. The tempo from here on is unrelenting as the duo deliver 45 mins of ferociously camp, extroverted magnetism - and by the end of the track Helder has already stripped off to just his tight leather trousers. ‘MY isn’t Fritz looking ripped tonight ladies and gents?’ Azari asks. ‘Woo’ say the crowd in agreement, ‘cos he sure does.
The double header of ‘Lost in Time’ straight into ‘Reckless (With Your Love)’ tastes like sipping a bowl of magic continuously, as Helders’ oversized Darth Vader gold chain hits his chest when he’s bangin’ on the dash, paraphrasing MIA there. Producers Dinamo and ‘III’ remain at the back behind the show, huddled over triggers, percussions and wealth of electronic goods – the shadow makers in control akin Plato’s Cave, a mysterious force unbeknown to many.
Chemistry-wise, the duo at the front are hot, bitching to each other between tracks in catty tongue-in-cheek drama queen ways; gyrating with one another during tracks, the whole synergy of performance and music is just too. Fucking. Sexy. I’m sure the small irony of Heaven existing as a leading gay club on weekend’s is not lost on many, with all this fabulous OTT hedonistic fun here to engorge in.
Hercules and Love Affair are the obvious point of reference alongside slabs of 90’s house revivalism and NYC disco. In fact the ethos is so early-90’s I”m half expecting Carlton to slide-in onto the stage for an outrageous dance. By the time ‘Manic’ and ‘Hungry For The Power’ are unleashed the audience are in raptures, as non-Carlton dancers join on stage and the duo take a songs excursion into the audience for a dance-off. You’re probably getting the picture by now – the serotonin-soaked atmosphere so phwoar-inducing it’ll render your previous best orgasm to a dulled redundant memory. Nicolas who?