Andrew Williams witnessed the much anticipated headline set from Moodymann at Hidden.
Last updated: 23rd Feb 2018. Originally published: 9th Feb 2018
Often, there’s not much point in being able to see a DJ. In most instances, there’s nothing to look at, unless you’re at Tomorrowland or elrow. In the case of Moodymann, the moniker of Detroit legend Kenny Dixon Jr, there’s plenty to keep an eye on. Arriving at 1 am with his entourage, and on straight after the superb Martin Loose-Cuts, the anticipation in the strobe-filled room was palpable.
The Blue Room at Hidden has a squashed dancefloor. The DJ booth is wedged in the corner farthest away from the main bar. Peak times can get cosy; the shape of the room means that there’s plenty of pushing and shoving. The atmosphere simmers as the music thunders. As punters, between yellow pillars, remnants of the textiles mill that used to fill the space, find room to dance.
Moodymann, with his quest for ambiguity, had his face covered beneath a black hockey mask while he veiled his appearance under a ‘DETROIT’ baseball cap. He’s cut from the same cloth as fellow Motor City producer, Omar-S. Both are singular figures. Their respective notoriety transcends the underground scene. They do their own thing.
Bobbing behind the raised CDJs, he kicked off with some high-energy house cuts before very quickly settling into a groove — throwing the odd curveball in too. Mixing Outkast into a short sample of The Beatles’ ‘Come Together’ sounds a tad leftfield on paper until you realise it’s one of his long-time gimmicks.
Downstairs the You&Me DJs kept things a little more basic with thumping techno, whilst back upstairs, the enigmatic Moodymann weaved between safer cuts and would-be contemporary classics. Claptone’s vocal-laden ‘Heartbeat’ filled the hot room. He then went a little darker with Nicholas Van Orton’s punishing 'O2’. Intermittently, he’d dig down to his roots — the timeless keys from 1997’s 'Joy Part. II' shattering the club’s bespoke Neuron Pro setup.
As 4 am rolled around we’d been treated to a disinterested medley of Tom Trago’s ‘Use Me Again’, DJ Koze’s edit of Låpsley’s ‘Operator’ and Madonna’s ‘Like a Prayer’.
The atmosphere felt more like an indie gig from start to finish. He could have fared better with more mid-90s house, crunching techno and grooving house, rather than aiming to please the masses, although it was undeniably enjoyable and a confirmation if you needed it that he's a DJ with the ability to take a crowd wherever he wants.