On the first night of his intimate UK tour celebrating his most recent work – the captivating Off Piste EP – Jam Baxter was in high spirits. With good reason too, as he has cultivated one of the most glimmering discographies of any current UK hip-hop rapper and continues to do so while also establishing himself as a revered poet and author with the fascinating recent Off Piste book he has marvelled fans with.

Warming up both the stage and the venue for the evening’s proceedings, CMPND members Wundrop and Vitamin G got busy with the bars and saw some early iterations of skanking break loose. Showing plenty of promise and proving exactly why High Focus were so eager to get them on board, Wundrop cut a figure of poise throughout his set, as Vitamin G bobbed along on the side of DJ Sammy B-Side’s decks before joining in the shelling for a couple of tracks.

From the second Baxter took to the stage, this felt like a celebration. This may have been the case more so due to his selection of Latin string-heavy party music that comically introduced him, as he stood on stage cutting the figure of a hero, here to greet his faithful:

Beginning with the lead single from Off Piste, the sermon was in session as Red Hawaiian pumped through the speakers and the energy levels shot up with Baxter dashing across the stage never missing a beat. It didn’t take long for the crowd to transform into an all moving amalgamation of sweat, joy and questionable dance moves.

Delving further into a jam-packed setlist full of Baxter classics – of which now there are a considerable amount – many rejoiced at hearing the melancholic opening notes of For a Limited Time Only ring out before jumping up and down as the buoyant Mask bled through the sound system. Joining him on stage, Datkid got up for the two of them to slickly spill through the coarse back-to-back they have conjured on Drowned Dogs, to mass fanfare.

Jam Baxter

Solidifying the celebratory theme further, none other than the birthday boy and often Jam-collaborator Lee Scott was in attendance and graced the stage to be treated to a hearty rendition of Happy Birthday from all inside, then treated the crowd to a performance of a track from their 2019 joint album Happy Hour at the Super Fun Time Party Dome Megamix 4000, and the stellar All Clear from the Off Piste EP.

By this point the room had certainly mutated into a psychedelic cosmos of bass, heavy beats and intricate poetic raps that Baxter is so well known for, as he kicked out an unexpected Dead Players mashup, having everyone suddenly feeling that their biggest priority in life was hearing a third Dead Players project – here’s hoping!
Fully in control of and absolutely aware of the carnage he was causing within the crowd, Jam showed no signs of mellowing or giving anyone a breather as the gas pedal was stomped down while he whisked up a Feeding Frenzy, before assuring all he was Fine and remorselessly ate the Brains of everyone, before closing out his performance and bringing to a halt what can only be described as a whirlwind of good times,  with the hectic Vultures.

It took a few minutes in the aftermath for steam to rise off people’s bodies, and for the feral two-steppers once recognised as decent humans to regain their composure and realise happy hour had concluded, but they all knew the memories of this one would live on long and strong. Others were lucky enough to stick around and get some items signed by the High Focus poet laureate himself which was great of him, a lovely thing to do and poignant way to show how strong the fan-artist relationship is here.

 

Jam Baxter is performing the final two dates of the Off Piste tour this weekend – tickets are available here.

Featured image photo credit: Harvey Williams-Fairley.

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