Major Lazer - O2 ABC, Glasgow, Sun 22 Apr
A ballsy and daft neo-dancehall party that wasn't shared enough with the audience
‘Make some noise for all the asses!’ encouraged super-producer, and one half of Major Lazer, Diplo, midway through the band’s dancehall blitzkrieg of a live show. A dozen Glaswegian girls had been hoisted from the audience onto the O2 ABC stage to perform the booty-popping ‘daggering’ dance moves that have helped make Major Lazer shows (and videos) notorious, and have contributed to an upsurge in fractured penises in Jamaica due to over-vigorous dance floor frottaging.
It was the high point of an evening that otherwise revolved around a) putting your hands in the air b) jumping up and down and c) waving your shirt around over your head. Art-pop it wasn’t, but Major Lazer did manage to bring some sense of a reggae soundclash free-for-all to Sauchiehall Street on a rainy Sunday night.
Major Lazer is the fictional frontman for the musical collaboration of producers Diplo and Switch. He’s a Jamaican commando who lost both his arms during the secret zombie wars of 1984, to have them replaced with – you guessed it – lasers.
In reality the production team face the same problem that all burgeoning dance acts do – how to build a live show around two guys pressing buttons? The Chemical Brothers have jaw-dropping visuals. Basement Jaxx have a carnival of dancers and vocalists. Major Lazer? Well, they have asses, of course, but also a hype man, working up the crowd to fever pitch. The combined effect of neon visuals, jerking dancers and lots of shouting does, indeed, help you lose your shit. But after the sweating and the bouncing and the gawping was all over, there wasn’t a lot underpinning this glorified DJ set.
Switch and Diplo have, between them, worked on records for Beyoncé, Usher, Azealia Banks, Santigold and, most famously, M.I.A. They’re hugely influential figures in modern dance music, and so important that one of them, Switch, hadn’t turned up. The set was a mixture of own-brand Major Lazer anthems and old school reggae and dancehall classics (‘Who Am I’ by Beenie Man anyone?) that also incorporated tweaked-out, jumpstyle house, furious drum & bass and even the vocals of Dirty Projectors’ Amber Coffman on upcoming release ‘Get Free’. The music was ballsy and daft, which would have been a plus had the show not descended into an onstage party for the entourages of Major Lazer and support Toddla T, who backslapped and in-joked until the anticlimactic final, drunken sign-offs came at 10.30pm and everyone headed to the after-party.
The offhand brilliance of Major Lazer’s jacking neo-dancehall wasn’t lost, but if you’re going to have that much fun, it’s polite to take your audience along with you.