Oval Space presented a Sunday show with Larry Heard AKA My Fingers performing live with hardware & Mr White on vocals for a 90 minute piece. The musical support came from Tama Sumo who is a famed Panorama Bar resident, & co-owner of the Finest Friday’s project at Panorama Bar with Lakuti who also runs the Uzuri artist agency & record label. Tama & Lakuti are well respected and recognised for work within the house community they both proudly champion and support. On warm up duties included Hamish Cole of Butter Side Up fame and Toby Nicholas who co-runs the Dog Eat Dog party based up north in the UK. Larry Heard does not need any introduction but if you want a refresher check the interview Mohson Stars penned back in 2008 for RA here. Larry Heard has produced some of house music’s stone cold classics which have most certainly stood the test of time and Larry still is credited as being one of the most highly regarded names in house music pure and simple, house music would not be what it is today without his consistent high level of contribution.
Larry Heard creates emotive, emotional, spiritually deep and instantly memorable house music, recognised for using signature hardware that have helped define and crate a sound not many can replicate with real honesty & integrity. Larry sings, produces, djs and also runs Alleviated Records for which most of his celebrated works spanning two decades have released on and still counting with new material to release in 2018.
A few aliases include Mr Fingers, Disco D, Gherkin Jerks, Loosefingers & Fingers Inc to name a few. Some of Larry’s most recognised pieces of work across albums include Alien on Black Market 1994, Dance 2000 part 1 & 2 on Distance in 1997 & 98. Singles including Black Oceans on Black Market in 1994, Missing You on Alleviated 2000, The Sun Can’t Compare featuring Mr White Alleviated 2006 & more recently with Virtual featuring Mr White on Alleviated released earlier this year. We have not even scratched the surface with this artist which can be easily discovered on Discogs here or YouTube here. Larry has a very distinct sound encapsulated with soulful melodies and keys, underpinned with strong rhythmic drum programming to create a real sense of soul and genuine feeling which have touched so many on the dance floor the world over. Classic and timeless are some of the regular words used to describe a Larry Heard production. Larry is very much recognised for his production front and centre and out of this Larry does not actively engage with the wider media outlets which has probably helped keep the focus on the key factor his production over his persona or personality.
We arrived early around 5pm with Hamish and Toby slowly warming up the huge PA which sounded loud and strong for the occasion. The early grooves included jazz ensembles, Cottage by Warren Harris warmed up the place with its jazzy piano rift. A few moments later Soul Fusion’s Bass Tone got the vibe rolling with its broken beat and strong bass line. One of the final numbers played included a Kerri Chandler number which got the party started and heads grooving. The crowd started to constantly stream in with a mix of older heads, various djs and producers known locally and a more clued up younger audience. The energy was palpable with everyone arriving early to enjoy a live show not witnessed that often but carries so much importance and relevance to this day. As 8:30pm rolled on Hamish & Toby did a very respectable job warming up for a very special occasion which saw heads arrive early for on a Sunday.
Mr White took to the stage first with his crowbar moustache and jet black shades, Larry very humbly took to the stage very modestly. Larry has these piercing eyes that resonate and engage as he looked out into the crowd with sincerity and joy. The crowd packed in tight front and centre and as the first kick drum rolled through the speakers the mood and tone was set for a very emotional ride through a very small portion of an artists most celebrated works. On My Way was the first track with its smooth keys, and brooding closed bass line. Larry took to the mic aided by Mr White and the first composition was played out in full with little to no deviation from the original production which came out in the early 90s.
As the 1st track ended Larry engaged with the crowd thanking them for supporting, loving, caring and stepping out to see him. It felt like Larry did not really understand how much of a big deal he is, if you are not glued to media outlets or the internet daily then you can understand at his age why, it was very humbling and refreshing to see. Track 2 and the piano rift took off and glided around the 3 chord bass line, seaguls & ocean wave samples, it was none other than Missing You which was a much anticipated number. As the slouchy & relaxed bass line consumed the space Larry sang the vocals as the entire room started to join in and sing the words that speak of missing a loved one, to love and lose, to have and to hold. I took a quick look around the floor and the dancers down the front really started to let loose and find their moment within the music. The majority of the crowd smiling unashamedly it was a beautiful sight seeing a dance floor united, all colours, creeds, sexual orientations, persuasions and ages. As Larry tweaked the mixing desk and flicked his attention to the laptop and the crowd effortlessly. As the track rolled out the grooving bass line which is so recognisable and decaying piano rift slowly faded out to rapturous applause. This seemed to be a bit of a moment for many people and the opening to the show met the majority of expectation.
Track 3 The It Donnie with its searing synth lead which is instantly recognisable and this number really raised the energy as the heat and energy started to rise with more hot and sweaty bodies colliding down the front with hands in the air. The crowd looked locked into the show and the first few numbers set the distinguished tone.
We did not fully recognise the next few numbers which brought the acid and tougher drum programming to the floor which did not need any vocals. Mr White really added energy to the show constantly engaging with the crowd whilst supporting Larry on vocals when needed. Larry seems quite shy and unassuming and Mr White helped direct and engage energy whilst Larry tweaked away at the laptop and large mixing desk.
Larry’s latest single released early this year called Virtual Emotion featuring Mr White which was next and this had signature Larry all through it, sultry vocals with an intricate drum programme and catchy cute bass line. As Mr White sang the chorus virtual emotion the crowd looked very receptive to the new material and it complimented the classic material that opened the show.
Next up we had Closer To Me with Larry on vocals as the delicate percussion and subtle rhythm section supported the vocals and brought the energy warmer as the crowd joined in singing the vocals. Still lots of smiles, eyes closed and hands in the air cascaded across the crowd.
Larry took to the mic to introduce a new track which might feature on a longer player alluding to a new Larry Heard album at some point in the future. This futuristic number had all the hall marks of a Larry Heard production with 303 style acid drums & long signature keys.
the final track for the evening could have been one of many which arrived with the ping pong melody of The Sun Can’t Compare which received an instant reaction from the crowd as Mr White sang the words which the entire crowd joined in with …..’You are my life….’
This was the perfecting ending to a much anticipated live set from a living legend. The overall words spoke of love and intimacy raised the bar for the finale of the 90 minute live show. As the hard hitting claps gleamed and shone through Larry faded the music which brought about rapturous claps and applause for a few minutes from the entire crowd. Larry looked genuinely humbled and modest after his set finished and thanked the crowd for the love and support. Mr White brimmed with infectious energy and kept dancing like a New York club kid still high on the energy in the room. for the long standing Larry Heard fans it would appear from the crowd that the majority got what they expected with a little more energy and sincerity provided by Mr White.
Next up we saw Lakuti take to the decks with a strong vocal number keeping the energy high from the Live Set. Lots of people filtered out and everyone else who did not mind staying out late on a Sunday crowded around the decks as Lakuti masterfully created a space complimenting the music that had been presented since the warm up. Tama Sumo appeared later on and as a celebrated Panorama Bar resident really drove through the gears really expressing flare and style. The programming from warm up to closing was on point and Oval Space really set out an intention we hope they continue into the new year.
Oval Space pulled out a very memorable booking with Larry Heard that did not disappoint and the warm up of Hamish and Toby did a stellar job which leaned into the main show with ease. Tama & Lakuti closed out the night in style with pure solid house music which the remaining 200 strong enjoyed till close. The main attraction was Larry Heard and with new material on the way and a live set that is being much talked about.
If there are more bookings for this live show it comes highly recommended for people who like their nights out filled with musicality, sincere vocals, classic house production and high energy. Not to mention being steeped in more history and relevance than people realise. If music is the form of expression to unite and bring people together on the dance floor Larry Heard still does that job with style and grace, his productions are still very powerful, unique, emotional, spiritual, one of a kind, period.