Live Review
Azari & Ill
White Heat
Soho, London

Some tech-savvy good Samaritan recently ripped and uploaded a BBC radio documentary about house music grandaddy Larry Levan, which included a four-hour live set recorded at the Paradise Garage in 1979. Rescued from obscurity, the tape is a vivid snapshot of the potent emerging scene, featuring soaring live vocals from underground legends Sylvester and Loleatta Jackson. And just when you think they don’t make ’em like that anymore, Azari & III are in town to squeeze the sweat from your pores through the old fashioned magic of analogue. Yin meets yang in the voices of Cédric Gasaida, silkily purring in a fur hat and teeny-tiny white jeans, and Fritz Helder, streaming sweat and rasping dirty talk in a skin-tight suit, while the eponymous Azari & III lurk just behind, pushing an authentic ‘80s template through a prism of contemporary ballroom house, trash-fash electro and luscious space disco. Whooping and perspiring, the congregation confers something genuine and majestic on the glossy perfection of ‘Reckless (With Your Love)’ and ‘Into The Night’. It’s a wholly un-ironic resurrection of the extroverted, ecstatic, near-spiritual magic of prototype house, and along with that rip-roaring podcast it’s the closest any born-in-the-Eighties kids are ever gonna get to the Paradise Garage.

By Chal Ravens

Originally published in issue 33 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. November 2011.