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Club Beat #20: Celebrating 5 Years with Toolroom Knights

Toolroom Knights take over the Brixton Academy for their fifth birthday celebrations…

9am, Wednesday 13th July, I was sat at my computer, waiting for the first tickets to be released for TK5. Since then, I’d bookmarked http://www.tk5.co.uk/, watched the teaser trailer [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVzTGT8gkws] probably fifteen or twenty times and memorised every new piece of information released about the event. Yes, I love Toolroom… Toolroom Knights celebrated their fifth birthday at Brixton Academy on 1st October, with the main stage playing host to TK residents, Mark Storie, Pete Griffiths and George Andrews, as well as D. Ramirez, Funkagenda, Umek, Mark Knight’s live set, Fedde le Grand and Michael Woods. It was D. Ramirez and Mark Knight’s live set that made my night particularly memorable.

D. Ramirez is a charismatic performer with a prolific career and an evolving sound. At TK5, his set was exciting and instantly captivating, which you can see from the crowd’s reaction in this video [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sU5c7BZO3AI] of him playing James Jones’ remix of Azari & III’s Hungry for the Power. No stranger to collaborations, having worked with several artists in the past and released his D. Ramirez & Friends EP on Toolroom earlier this year, he dropped Downpipe, his collaboration with Mark Knight, to cheers from the crowd. He also included his release, Jump It Up, in a varied and interesting set that enthralled the crowd.

Mark Knight’s live set was a real treat, with exhilarating performances from several artists. Dino Lenny sang the hit, Beautiful World. Mark Knight premiered Nothing Matters with Skin from Skunk Anansie. Her performance was breath taking; her dazzling stage presence being accompanied by her emotive voice. A seasoned entertainer, Underworld’s Karl Hyde took to the stage for Downpipe; effortlessly cool, he easily whipped the crowd into a frenzy. Finally, James Knight did an incredible rendition on the sax for Man with the Red Face. Watching him perform left me speechless; he was exceptional. With all these guest performances, this set was spectacular, showing the venue off at its best.

The Brixton Academy is an acclaimed performance space, suitable for the significance of the event. Although sold out on the night, it never felt overcrowded and the seating upstairs provided ample space for anyone wanting to relax and watch the artists performing to a throbbing main room. Unfortunately, the Brixton Academy is renowned for the vile state its toilets end the night in. Another ‘grin and bear it’ aspect of the venue is the kitchen staff. They were surprisingly rude, resenting being asked to make a veggie burger and then taking 45 minutes to cook it. The lesson: one must learn new and ingenious ways to smuggle vegetarian snacks into this venue… and try not to stay too hydrated. Nevertheless, all other staff were exceptionally friendly and helpful. TK also brought in some practical adjustments. They levelled the dance floor, which was greatly appreciated by someone who dances all night. They also brought in more soundsystem and put up screens on the stage, captivating the audience. These adjustments created a fuller clubbing experience.

This was a wonderful experience, celebrating TK’s fifth birthday with fabulous DJs, spectacular performances and 4,500 fans. I wonder what the next five years will hold…

Ann Bartholomew



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