Josiah Hartley discovered that Elba's talents lie just as confidently with music at a headline event in Bristol.
Date published: 18th Apr 2017
Image credit: Sarah Koury
Saturday night saw British actor Idris Elba make his Bristol DJ debut at Motion nightclub and as you can probably imagine scores of fans came out to see the star demonstrate his skills behind the decks. Best known for his acclaimed roles in TV shows The Wire and Luther, as well as big screen performances in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Thor and Prometheus, the London-born star is no newcomer to spinning tunes by a long stretch.
Elba, who also writes, produces, raps and sings has roots in DJing and sound system culture that dates back to his teenage years - long before his acting career even began. In the last few years he has rejuvenated his DJ career and held down a busy schedule which has included regular stints in Ibiza, as well as previous sets at Glastonbury Festival, Creamfields, Snowbombing and opening up for Madonna’s Rebel Heart tour in 2015.
With quite the high profile on the international clubbing and festival circuit - besides his on-screen fame - it was hardly surprising to see how packed the venue was or to find out that Elba wasn’t due to play his set until the tactically late slot of 2:30am. For those who arrived early it was a fairly long wait in store, but this was more than made up for by the “very special guests” in tow, which turned out to be UK funky survivor Roska and Mike Skinner of The Streets - who both provided stellar support.
Roska did a fine job in warming up proceedings with vocal-led UK funky anthems such as Doneao’s ‘Devil In a Blue Dress’ , through to grime instrumentals and funky, bruk-up beats typical of his own production style. While Skinner – who in recent years has returned to a regular DJ capacity since putting The Streets moniker to bed - kept up the momentum with a set that ran the gamut of UK bass styles, covering UK garage and dubstep to bassline and drum’n’bass.
The ex-Streets frontman even threw in some recent hip hop bangers by the likes of Drake and Migos for good measure; with the latter’s ‘Bad and Boujee’ going down well with the raucous crowd. Even after the preceding sets of hard-hitting beats, by no means were the widely mixed masses ready to slow down. The hours flew by which is often the case when you’re having lots of fun on the dancefloor and soon enough it was time for Big Driis - as the star is also known - to make his grand entrance onto the stage.
Donning a pair of dark shades and a New York Yankees cap, the Londoner took to the decks at his allotted time to the sound of ecstatic screams and cheers from his legion of fans that filled out the expansive main room. His mere presence and initial greeting of: “Whaa’gwaan Bristol!?” particularly had the females - aged between their early twenties to late forties - overcome with excitement, as they screamed and filmed the man’s every move through their smart phones. With the anticipation for his set at its absolute peak, Elba wasted no time in putting the crowd straight to work with a barrage of bass-driven house bangers. And of course with Bristol’s renowned love for low end frequencies, the revellers lapped it right up.
The set itself, lasting approximately one hour and thirty minutes was very much four-to-the floor and on a pumping, Ibiza party vibe, though throughout Elba demonstrated his knack for reading the crowd well and knew when to navigate across the house spectrum. A good example of this occurred midway through the set when he sent the crowd berserk with a run of speed garage classics such as ‘RIP Groove’ by Double 99 and Armand Van Helden’s remix of CJ Bolland’s ‘Sugar Is Sweeter’.
Further set highlights came when he ventured into vocal-driven territory via sultry numbers like the Dennis Ferrer remix of Fish Go Deep’s ‘Cure And The Cause’, which went down a treat for the sing-a-long massive. As well as touching on more current gear later in the mix, including a track of his own - the tribal roller ‘Make It Bump’ and ‘Know My Ting’ (Gorgon City Mix) by Ghetts.
Although the actor remained focused on his mixing and held total control of the crowd throughout, he also appeared to be having just as much fun; bouncing away to the tunes whilst swigging a can of Red Stripe and interacting with revellers over the mic in his gravelly cockney tones. With all his charm and suave confidence in everything he does, it’s no wonder why the man of many talents is hotly tipped to play the next James Bond. Whether we’re talking acting, DJ-ing or other musical endeavors, through to kickboxing and land speed racing it really seems as if there’s nothing the man can’t do well.