Pinning down 6 Music’s style is tricky. But what’s clear is that they’re champions of work that’s varied, innovative and packs a punch when played live. They’ve been running their 6 Music Festival since 2014. Each year it takes place in a different city around the UK – past fests have included Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow – and this year saw its first time in London. And where better than Camden?
The Roundhouse was the main venue with gigs also happening at Dingwalls, FEST Camden and Electric Ballroom. So, what went down?
Roisin Murphy was a definite highlight. The singer – originally of Moloko fame – who’s worked with people like Matthew Herbert – got the Roundhouse moving on the Saturday night. She’s all about the dance floor this one. A mix of spaced out electronica and disco vibes. Moloko were a bit of a hit maker back in the 90s and Murphy’s live show fully reflects that.
Meanwhile Mercury Prize nominee Michael Kiwanuka had a bit of bad luck and was struck down with laryngitis. Which turned out to be lucky for Nadine Shah, who stepped in to fill his spot and kicked off the International Women’s Day night of the festival. She’s a bit of an Anna Calvi vibe. Her music is thrumming baselines and percussion topped off with a deep, dark voice. It’s hypnotic. She brought chit chat and banter onstage (with the audience and cameramen). Pretty impressive for an unexpected headliner gig at Camden’s biggest venue the Roundhouse.
6 Music are pros when it comes to mixing the old and the new. Amongst all the recent “next big thing” names they draft in some classic acts, too. This year that included The Selecter. A two tone, ska band formed in Coventry in the 70s. Accompanied by Ed O’Brien they got the Roundhouse’s main room jumpin’.
Some acts need little introduction. Which is exactly what Mike Skinner of The Streets gave; deadpanning “You all know me, my name’s Daniel Bedingfield” when he got on stage. The quirky, garage icon packed his set with tune after absolute tune. All of the big ones including “Has it come to this?” and (of course) “Fit But Don’t You Know It”. Plus a couple of sweet covers thrown in too; Gorillaz’s “Clint Eastwood” and Nelly’s “Getting Hot in Here”. That was apt, given the temperature.
Another utter icon who took to the stage was the almighty Kim Gordon. A woman whose voice almost singularly encapsulates the grunge, alternative scene of the 90s as the front woman of Sonic Youth. And her voice has aged well. She put on a show that only the most seasoned punk rock and roll legend can. And made it look really easy while doing it.
Continuing the mix of genres were indie stalwarts Bombay Bicycle Club who showed that their poppy, lighter tones also have a place still on Camden’s stages at the Electric Ballroom. The group formed in nearby Crouch End and provided a mellow, chilled out vibe to sway to.