Oxford Street’s 100 Club is perhaps most famous, at least historically, for hosting punk and jazz legends. However, on this Monday night, it sees 1980s-throwback-house act Azari & III grace the stage to perform their brand of retrospective synth house pop.
On paper, the Torontonian quartet are a house music lover’s dream. Producers Dinamo Azari and Alixander III are the brains of the operation, armed with a menagerie of electronic equipment at the back of the stage. Vocalists Cedric Gasaida aka 'Starving Yet Full' and Fritz Helder provide the lighthearted entertainment, strutting and working the crowd like their lives depend on it, hips swinging and heads shaking so much that we’re scared that someone’s going to pop a limb.
The set gets off to a promising start, with the producer duo getting the Converse-clad audience’s feet tapping with the bassy tones of ‘Hungry for the Power’ and the jungle rhythms of ‘Lost in Time’, the latter of which showcases the band’s strongest points, which lies in producing solid, danceable rhythms. However, as the performance progresses, it becomes clear that the quartet don’t have many strings to their bow; the house-fuelled electronica beat becomes monotonous and the sashaying antics of the frontmen become tiresome rather than entertaining. It certainly doesn’t help matters that the sound system muffles the vocals, meaning that any vocal quirkiness that could have spiced up proceedings is lost in transmission. While the energy is apparent, it becomes hard to stay focused and many heads start to turn and begin scanning the crowd. The idea of Azari & III is exciting, but there isn’t enough variety; and as the set progresses it becomes more difficult to differentiate between tracks, with the same beat appearing to course through every song.
Overall, a frustrating performance from Azari & III, as it’s clear that the ingredients are there - they just haven’t been mixed correctly.
Words: Wendy Davies