Ninja Tune XX – Event Review

Ewer Street Car Park, London, 2nd October 2010

The night had finally come, Ninja’s from all over the UK were descending en masse to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Coldcut’s Ninja Tune Label.

As we approached the venue, a car park in Ewer Street, Southwark, the torrential rain did not dampen the spirits of anyone we spoke to. The line-up featured the cream of Ninja Tune’s roster, from new school signings such as ESKMO, KING CANNIBAL and TODDLA T, to the original Ninjas COLDCUT, HEXSTATIC, ROOTS MANUVA, Mr. SCRUFF, KID KOALA, DJ FOOD & DK and many more.
Projections on the ceiling of the arched entrance and sprayed stencils of Ninja eyes instantly set the tone that this understated setting was going to play host to the party of the year.

Once we’d navigated the chaos of the queue, tickets on the door sold out in seconds with a one in one out policy proving what a huge following this Label has, we were given our wristbands and in we went. The sound of Coldcut finishing their early set greeted us dissapointingly as they were supposed to play from 21:00 but with doors opening late most people missed Jon and Matt playing together. Despite this we could already feel the buzz and excitement of the night ahead building up. Matt Black introduced the next act to tear it up with an exclusive “NINJA A/V SET”, Hexstatic. As the first tune dropped and the word “Ninja!!!” came booming out of the sound system and on the screen, I was lucky enough to say a quick hi and thank you to Jon Moore of Coldcut.

Hexstatic’s mix of heavy beats, dub-step, drum and bass and slick visuals did not disappoint.

Off for a quick break to get a beer and absorb the almost festival like vibe that was building up inside this darkened complex of tunnels, I saw Eric San aka KID KOALA giving an interview inside a converted school bus.

The interior design by Mutate Britain really bought the venue to life without overdoing it, subtle stencils and projections in the main tunnels, Ninja Tune Archive Boards, and Funki Porcini Videos playing in what was a chill-out tunnel really gave the feeling of a celebration of all things Ninja. Custom designed “Ninja Tune XX” t-shirts were also available by the boys from Hit+Run.
DJ KENTARO was cooking up a storm on our way back through the venue with old style jungle rhythms, scratched instruments and melodies laid effortlessly over the top.

The crowd inside the venue was building steadily and a real mix of people had come to pay homage to the Label that had given them so much over the years, from shoreditch designer types to old school B-Boys, there was never any animosity between the groups as they were all here for one and the same reason.

By the time Bonobo came on in the second arch, the place was heaving, playing a mix of his own tracks and remixes alongside some serious beats which appealed to broad mix of people in the crowd.

Kid Koala was next up, hyping up the atmosphere with an awesome rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ with everyone singing along. Even the river of rainwater running through the venue and the seemingly bottomless puddles still didn’t dampen the party vibe when he dropped ‘Robbing Banks’.

Moving off to catch Roots Manuva was a difficult decision, which the night would be full of. Trying to choose who to see when the line up was so packed with amazing artists made for some tough choices, but as always Manuva did not disappoint.
A huge Ninja head with green laser eyes dominated the backdrop as Roots Manuva dropped bomb after bomb on the crowd through a crisp, yet bass heavy, sound system. Ricky Rankin and Roots built the crowd into a frenzy with a mix of reggae, hip-hop and dub style beats. Then the one the crowd had been waiting for, as the opening bars of ‘Witness’ came rumbling out of the speakers it felt like the crowd doubled in size, as did the ambience. With Kids younger than Ninja Tune itself vibing alongside followers who have been into Ninja stuff since the labels first release by ‘Bogus Order’ (AKA Coldcut).

Having to bow out early due to other commitments and seriously wet feet we left the venue to allow two others to take our places. The evening definitely lived up to expectations and I am already looking forward to the next twenty years of Beats & Pieces.

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