From there to here has been a speedy journey for Rudimental. Independent releases paved the way to last year’s UK number one album (five here), Mercury and Brit nominations and now an extensive tour that is doing brisk business all over the place – especially at a rammed Monday night Olympia Theatre. Their roots may have been in the drum n’ bass scene of East London, yet they’ve clearly managed to cross over in a very serious way. The majority of those here tonight are probably less interested in the subtleties of performance than extending the weekend by an extra night, but we’re here to report that Rudimental may just be the best live act doing the rounds right now.
Set against a backdrop of street art, taken from the Home cover, tonight they are most definitely on a bridge heading from underground to overground. Although the quartet of Piers Agget, Kesi Dryden, Amir Amor and DJ Locksmith (the de facto master of ceremonies) are the public faces, the success of the project has stemmed from their revolving collection of singers and musicians. While John Newman and Ella Eyre have already moved onto their own careers, the trio of Anne Marie, Bridgett Amofah and Thomas Jules have replaced them seamlessly. Perhaps the most unsung of heroes, however, is trumpeter Mark Crown – whose constant contributions not only provide a link with their musical inspirations but also take an already excited room to another level and defining the Rudimental sound.
There is just so much to take in, so much to admire here. This collective (next in a timeline that includes The Specials, Asian Dub Foundation, The Prodigy and Massive Attack) have gathered, processed and filtered what has gone before and turned it into a sound that can be all things to all people. The big hits (especially a mighty ‘Feel The Love’) provide the highlights yet the set is perfectly pitched throughout, with the relatively subtle ‘Free’ uniting the Olympia as one voice and the Amofah led ‘Solo’ simply gorgeous. If we wanted to pick holes, we could have done without the time filling sing along encore, but when it merges into a raging, euphoric ‘Waiting All Night’ any gripes seem churlish.
A multi-racial, gender equal outfit, Rudimental are testimony to the power of community music. A well oiled, choreographed machine there’s a sense that nothing is left to chance. It’s hard to imagine their live experience ever being anything less than spectacular, which isn’t always a good thing. When you’re this good already, where do you go from there? In the short term, for Rudimental it will most probably be a triumphant festival run and then on to the arenas. Looking further ahead, they’ve set the bar seriously high for themselves. Here’s hoping they can get over it next time around.