There are few better spots in the country to catch emerging DJs and producers than Joshua Brooks’ basement. Bassy, atmospheric, and filled with a good-natured crowd, it's an ideal spot for the most exciting acts on the circuit to cut their teeth. This past Friday, however, offered something entirely different. Drum and bass duo Sigma are titans of their genre, having burst onto the scene in 2008 after being signed by DJ Fresh. Enormous critical and commercial success followed, so it was a rare treat to see them touch down in Manchester as part of their Up Close and Personal Tour.
This promised to be a series of more intimate gigs than their usual larger-scale or festival performances. Joshua Brooks was an inspired choice, with the 400-capacity venue being furnished with an outstanding VOID sound system, with speakers littered at various points across the dancefloor. The basement itself is fairly understated, with a simple LED display backlighting the DJ as they got to work. It’s a venue that has hosted the likes of Gerd Janson and Darius Syrossian recently, who reached deeper into their record bags to play extended sets of sublime house music. As a venue, it's incredibly versatile, with DnB legend Goldie having recently performed as part of Metalheadz's 30th anniversary tour. Sigma was next to put the sound system to the test with some tracks of a higher tempo.
DnB is an extremely broad church. Having recently seen Calibre and D-Bridge play a more liquid, instrumental variation of the genre, this was different. Being ably assisted by the outrageous hype man Dynamite MC, the duo glided between anthemic pop vocals and some of the heaviest basslines ever heard. Not letting a track sit for more than a minute, their entire set was a constant volley of enormous bangers. It helps that they have some of their own to reach for, and their most recent number one Changing predictably got one of the biggest reactions of the night - a proper hands in the air, hug the person next to you moment that makes these more personal tours so special.
Their set was packed with tracks from the 2022 album Hope, with a few older tracks for the more ardent of their fans. They also dropped an outrageous remix of Eric Prydz’s Opal, with its climactic chord sequence having been reworked into multiple club bangers over the years. This was the first and only time we've heard it used as a drum and bass tune though, and it spoke to a DJ set which had the handbrake fully off. It was an entirely different type of set than what you’d hear from them on Creamfields' main stage, but that was the point.
It was a sublime, raucous and sweaty night in Joshua Brooks. Sigma is outstanding at what they do, and seeing artists of this calibre in front of several hundred people is one of the best club experiences you can have. Being stood just a few feet from the DJ booth, we're pretty sure that Sigma and Dynamite themselves would agree, beaming back at the crowd each time a bassline kicked in. Whichever festival and club headline slots follow will be richly deserved, but this one was special.
The City Lights DnB duo brings more filthy basslines to London, Brighton, and Milton Keynes over the next few months. Secure your tickets now at the very bottom of this page to skank out all night long.
Check out our What's On Guide to discover more rowdy raves and sweaty gigs taking place over the coming weeks and months. For festivals, lifestyle events and more, head on over to our Things To Do page or be inspired by the event selections on our Inspire Me page.