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Liam Howlett at the FABRIC


When Liam Howlett played the first of those DJ sets, in Mary Ann Hobs Breezeblock show on Radio, he called his mix a ‘weird array of tunes’. And that's exactly what he did today, at his last (? hmmm, I think he'll do it again!) DJ date, at the Fabric in London. I don’t want to make this sound negative, no, but after Homelands a few weeks ago had been a very similar set to Bug Jam, this was now quite different.

The FABRIC is a new 'superclub' in London with 2000 people capacity and 3 rooms plus a VIP bar. Tonight is the launch of 'Vapour', a monthly clubnight and 'room 1' is hosted by XL-Recordings and features next to some other DJ's James Lavelle, Breakbeat Era and Liam Howlett!

Liam is on at 1am, just after Breakbeat Era. Unlike at other DJ sets he is not on a stage, no, he is at the back of the room, but hidden behind some kind of fence. You can get really close, look through that fence directly on his turntables, but it is very hard to take any pictures. (That's why on most pics I took Liams head is actually cut off.)

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Liam starts his set with some weird noises and then with an underground dance tune, I don't know the name of, but if I'm not completely wrong, it contains that 'Now hear this' sample that used to be played at Prodigy gigs a few years ago. Liam plays that tune for a while now, while 'room 1' is getting more and more crowded. He continues with some hip hop and dance tunes, but the first few of them get played for ages. Very early in the set Radio Babylon is played now, and as done before, Liam first just throws the 'Babylon' vocal sample in another tune, then fades the other tune out and starts to play Radio Babylon. People know that tune from The Dirtchamber sessions and next to me some person keeps singing along to it, which sounds quite weird with the 'huuuh, alright!'. Radio Babylon gets played quite long while Liam is searching through his recordbox. James Lavelle joins him now, and stands next to Liam for the rest of the set. A few more old-school hip hop tunes follow and then 'Rock the house' by the B-Boys is played, as heard at Homelands at Bug Jam before. A friend of mine, Smitty from Braintree, has an idea now: He wants Liam to play the Mexican, so he keeps shouting 'mexican!'. Liam hears it, smiles and gives him a look which probably means 'just wait and see!'. I still try to figure out how to get some decent pics, but somehow it is impossible. All I can do is hold my camera in the air and take them 'blind', but then again I don't want to take them when Liam is just in front me cause it's so close that the flash would make him blind. You can see the result of this exercise on this page.

Another tune from the Dirtchamber Sessions is played now: Chemical Beats by the Chemical Brothers.

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Liam and James Lavelle

The whole crowd is totally into it now, loads of people shout around, and on top of them all you hear Smitty who keeps repeating 'Mexican'!

Liam changes the tunes faster now and plays some tracks I had never heard before and we get to hear a lot of weird stuff in between of them, like that 'bu wapapaduda bwapapa!'.

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Happy Gilmore
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After a chaotic, but cool mix of about 10 snippets of some weird tunes he fades out and starts to play the Mexican! Everyone goes 'aaaaah!' and the whole room goes crazy to that song, but Smitty, not satisfied yet, just starts to shout 'Sex Pistols!' now. Liam goes on with his set and soon we get to hear a tune by Public Enemy and now also 'I get wrecked' by Tim Dog. The set keeps getting better and the atmosphere in the club is great. A few weird fans keep holding Prodigy covers under Liams nose, as if he would have time to sign them during a DJ set....

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Liam continues with a few old-school hip hop tracks   and then the set gets more and more variety, and suddenly Liam plays some oriental style song followed by a few Reggea tunes! This is definitely a big change from the last sets, but to me the set seems a bit confused at this point.

He continues with some dance tunes, but Smitty thinks he should rather play some Janus Stark (well, of course it's all just a laugh) and when he remembers that Janus Stark flyer in his wallet, he just can't resist and holds it under Liams nose. Liam takes it, wondering what it is, and as he reads 'Janus Stark' on it starts to laugh. I myself also can't stop laughing now, especially when Smitty now (under the influence of a few drinks I suppose) starts to sing the chorus of Floyd (a well-known Janus Stark song).

xfabric12.jpg (16789 bytes) xfabric13.jpg (15958 bytes) Having no success with that suggestion, after a few minutes Smitty shouts 'Happy Gilmore, I want to hear some Happy Gilmore!' (Kierons new band), but for some reason Liam hasn't got that record either ;-) xfabric14.jpg (16683 bytes)

Inspired by Smitty everyone is shouting 'suggestions' now and behind me I hear a guy going absolutely crazy: "voodoo people! I feel like a voodoo!"

Not caring too much about that all, just giving them all a smile sometimes, Liam continues his set with some dance tunes and  then he plays 'Sure Shot' by London Funk All stars, which is also featured on the Dirtchamber Sessions, fades it out and finishes the set with: Pretty Vacant by the Sex Pistols! yay! I am totally in love with that song and once more this is a total highlight of the set, and the whole room gets crazy for a last time! No crowdsurfers, but at least a proper moshpit!

After the set a Japanese girl asks me why I took so many pictures and if I publish them somewhere. I tell her about my page and give her the URL, when a German girl comes in and asks "Are you neko?". She had apparently seen the reviews on my page and she has come all the way from Germany to see this DJ set of Liam! Meanwhile next to us Smitty is on a mission again and tries to convince Liam to play a Prodigy gig in Braintree! Liam isn't really convinced (yet) and surrounded by many fans leaves towards the VIP area. I later spot him in there hanging out with James Lavelle and get to give him a copy of the bootleg of the Homelands Ireland DJ set, which had been sent to me by someone from Ireland a few days ago. I also confront him with the fact that the soundfile of it is online already, not knowing if he was going to hate me for that, but fortunately he goes "oh, it's cool".

Having seen all of Liams DJ sets this year, I must say FABRIC wasn't the best one of them, but in some way very different from the others and therefore unique. The tracks by the Chemicals from 'Surrender' were missing, especially the 'Hey Boy, Hey Girl'. Instead Liam surprised us all with those reggea tunes. The atmosphere in the club was great and after all those big festivals it was nice to see him DJing in a club for a change (at least  no umbrellas here!).

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