Deltron 3030 at Scala
How do you present the live show of a two-part hip-hop opera set over a thousand years in the future? With a turntablist, a skateboard-wielding emcee, a suited conductor, a live drummer and a guitar player – oh and a full orchestra, of course. Deltron 3030 are an experimental hip-hop group consisting of rapper Del the Funky Homosapien, Dan “the Automator” Nakamura (producer of the Gorillaz debut album), and Ninja Tune’s DJ extraordinaire, Kid Koala.
They released their self-titled debut album back in 2000, it was labelled an instant underground classic, breaking down barriers between electro and hip-hop, and pioneering new territory for lyrical content, at a time when gangster rap was dominating and had become stale and commercial. Deltron 3030 is a coherently realised concept album set in the year 3030, with deft orchestral production infused with sepia-toned synths and playful, witty lyricism inspired by comic book culture.
That was thirteen years ago, and fans have been waiting impatiently as the group teased with release dates that seemed to be endlessly pushed back. It was a relief that 3040 was the setting for their follow up, Event II, and not the year it would finally see the light of day. But as soon as Del swaggered on stage in his bright-blue puffer jacket, accompanied by Dan in his full suit and tails, and backed by nearly 20 other musicians, it was clear to all the gathered disciples in Scala’s ridiculously-packed venue, that it was worth the wait.
They opened by regaling the breathless crowd with the classic standout tracks of their debut, 3030 and Mastermind. Del commanded the stage with an effortless, nonchalant demeanour befitting his laid-back whimsical flow and baritone cadence, whilst Dan played maestro conducting this eccentric assemblage masterfully. Kid Koala’s signature leftield cut-and-scratch technique was flawless. When they got to the new material the orchestra really came into its own, with the booming brass section driving things along, whilst the strings played second fiddle to the backing track, subtly enhancing the Automator’s production.
The atmosphere was fervent throughout, reaching a fever pitch at the conclusion of the last song. Deltron 3030 received a rapturous encore and promptly returned for the melancholic Do You Remember? which saw a cheeky cameo by album guest, Jamie Cullum. Surprisingly, they chose to end on Gorillaz’s Clint Eastwood (which was produced by Dan and featured Del as the Ghost Rapper). It was an absolute masterstroke, sounding better than it ever has with the backing of the orchestra. Simply breathtaking.
Photo: Alex Headrick
For further information and future events visit Deltron 3030’s website here.
Watch the video for City Rising from the Ashes here: