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Fatboy Slim pushes the tempo for two hours

Fatboy Slim, May 6, E Zone Club, Bengaluru.

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Darshan Manakkal May 07, 2012
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A full moon night had drawn out a sizeable collection of Bengaluru’s creatures of the dark to E Zone Club, a decrepit go-karting centre in the city’s boondocks. They’d brought along their dancing shoes, sensational wigs, mad hats, LED sunglasses and a bunch of dance moves that were last seen in public in the mid Nineties. They’d come of course to see Norman Cook a.k.a. Fatboy Slim in the flesh, but had to endure a drawn out prelude featuring local acts like DJ Ivan and a long list of annoying emcees.

When he finally did take stage, Cook was everything the 2,000-plus crowd had come for. They sang along every time he played a sample from his more popular tracks. They put their hands up in the air, when he asked them to. And they gasped in disbelief as the 48-year-old DJ managed the curious spectacle of air punching, working the turntables, and bouncing on one leg, all at the same time.

At Fatboy Slim gigs elsewhere in the world, as many as 3,00,000 people have been known to turn up, revelers have collapsed midway into the concert and entire towns have been trashed. None of that frenzy was evidenced during his set in Bengaluru, yet very few in the crowd walked away disappointed. Sure, the production wasn’t topnotch, the venue was a little bizarre with hundreds of automobile tyres forming a periphery and the beer at the bar was tepid. Still, Cook more than made up for those shortcomings with a furious set that was at once both fresh and vintage, and snuck in snatches from his biggest hits including “Rockafeller Skank” and “Praise You.” A montage of smileys morphed into angry yellow skulls and other striking visuals took over a giant LED screen that was set up behind Cook’s console.

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In between a fierce buildup of loops and beats, Cook slipped in a grinding spin on the perennial samba favorite, Sergio Mendes’ “Mas que Nada”. Of course, he had to bring out “Sunset” his take on The Doors’ “Bird of Prey”.

Throughout, Cook was the quintessential battery-powered anthropomorphic pink rabbit, at the head of the pack, never letting the energy drop over a two-hour set. The crowd, including the odd starlet, loved every single moment. The only exception was a very small section in the crowd who were overhead grumbling about the poor lyrical quality of Cook’s tracks, but then again you don’t listen to Fatboy Slim with your head. You do so with your feet.

Darshan Manakkal

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