Home > Music, People, Things I Like... > Unkle @ James Lavelle’s Meltdown

Unkle @ James Lavelle’s Meltdown

JL-MELTDOWN-FINAL1Last Friday saw us in the ever wonderful and impressive Royal Festival Hall watching Unkle Redux, the opening show of James Lavelle’s Meltdown, the annual South Bank extravaganza curated by a single invited host…

We’re quite big fans of James Lavelle having seen his art shows and watched him DJ many times over the years, but he has possibly the least well known public persona of all the curators of the Festival, a list which includes Bowie, Yoko Ono, Jarvis Cocker, Morrissey and Elvis Costello. His choice as curator may be as much to do with his ability to bring together talented people as it is to do with what he himself has done, although he unquestionably merits the position in my book.

Unkle Redux was billed as a “specially created, audiovisual show” featuring a whole host of  guests ranging from Mark Lanegan, Liela Moss, Keaton Henson and ESKA to the “The London Contemporary Orchestra, Goldsmiths Vocal Ensemble and of course everybody’s favorite turntablist, DJ Shadow…

And very good it was too… I think because Unkle are something of an unknown entity in themselves we were unsure what to expect: would it be a set consisting of the slower and more orchestrated tunes from their 5 studio albums, or a more dance orientated set of tunes in the vein of one of Mr. Lavelles DJ sets?

It’s difficult to know how much Mr. Lavelle contributes in terms of playing/ writing/ singing/ designing etc. to the Unkle project as a whole, and for this show he was only on stage for the first and last tunes of the evening..


Perhaps unsurprisingly we got all aspects of his character: the  lush strings of In a State, the haunted lyrics of Rabbit in the Headlights (sung by a very tortured soul by the name of Keaton Henson) and the huge noises of Follow Me Down and whatever the last track was called, and vast, stunning visuals accompanying each tune.

And to finish it off we had three hours of dancing in the foyer to the record collections of Don Letts and Paul Daley of Leftfield..

And I haven’t even mentioned the opening act. Philip Sheppard is a cellist who used a loop station and his undeniable skills to the most mesmerising effect.


The only criticism I have (more an observation really) is that there was almost no interaction with the audience. We sat there like sensible grown ups in our seats, the song stopped, we clapped, the next guest artist came out, the huge number of people of stage shuffled about a bit and then the band started… At the Siouxsie gig last year, everyone was standing up and dancing right from the off…

Anyway, a minor quibble at what was all in all a most enjoyable evening…

And we get it do it all again on Tuesday night as our favorite Danish Electronaut, Trentemøller is playing in the same venue…

Can’t wait….


  1. August 1, 2014 at 13:16

    Wow, Keaton filled in for Thom Yorke on vocals? That sounds like a pretty damn cool substitute!

    • August 1, 2014 at 13:32

      Hi Noisynoodle
      He did indeed. he shuffled on, sat down almost with his back to the audience and was obviously very uncomfortable being there.. His voice was wavery and fragile, but he sang “the first time ever I saw you face” and “rabbit..” so beautifully.. Very moving.
      Thanks for visiting and taking the time to comment, always appreciated.

      • August 1, 2014 at 13:38

        He supposedly is so shy he doesn’t perform live very often, so it sounds like a very rare treat. I can’t even remember Unkle playing that track when I saw ‘them’ years ago.

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