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Jamie Liddel @ Oval Space, London – 11th July

“I WANT HIS BABIES!” is not something I often declare about a fellow man, given that I have neither the sexual inclination nor the requisite equipment for this to materialise. But Jamie Lidell is not your average man. He is an incredibly endearing, super-talented, enigmatic sexy bastard of a man who makes some of the most joyously funky and soulful music around. And he makes me shout things like this.

His latest, eponymous album sees him reach new levels of Prince-esque electrosoulpop-funk; a vibrant reinvigoration from the more straight-up soul that characterised much of his previous two albums. A packed-out Oval Space greets the exuberant Lidell, resplendent as always in dressing gown and backed by a drummer and synth whizz Lorenz Rhode. Easing us in with a loose funk jam (a cover of something Wu-Tang Clan have sampled, the name of which escapes me), it’s not long before he hits the rousing summer anthem You Naked, drenched with sexual energy and ice cool guitar licks.

The bombastic What A Shame blasts out the of the soundsystem – which has never sounded so perfect here – with great vigour, while the vocoders and irresistible chorus of Do Yourself A Faver are brought to life perfectly. I Wanna Be Your Telephone is lacking in dialtones but is delivered in as slinky fashion as on record, dripping with innuendo and funk, and the call and response of Big Love gets the already highly excitable crowd amped up another few gears. A turbocharged, hard-funking rework of A Little Bit More is a highlight, added bite given to this delectable classic to make it stand up stronger in the live arena.

The first time I saw Lidell perform at Glade many years ago, he performed a dizzying set of beatboxing, live vocal looping, Kaoss Pads and samplers, and tonight he harks back to those electronic origins with an extended solo techno jam. At once bewildering and captivating, the tapestries he weaves with his mouth are beyond belief. The jam gets a little too hectic towards the end and perhaps overstays its welcome just slightly – but he acknowledges the fact after a huge round of applause (“sorry… I just get so lost in it!”).

A rousing singalong of Multiply brings this joyous set to a close, with a huge grin plastered across Lidell’s face. He’s the polar opposite of a live act bored with the rigours and repetition of touring, clearly loving every minute of his performance. While that’s in part due to having a sensible schedule and having had some time off from the live sphere, it’s also testament to what a hugely affable and life-affirming performer he is.

If you didn’t catch this show, bad luck; it’s his last in the UK until 2015.

Ben Gomori

Image courtesy of Oval Space

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