SOULWAX - LIVE @ ROYAL FESTIVAL HALL

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By Adam Simcox

They start with the slowness a 12 year album hiatus doesn't buy, a 2 note refrain announcing not very much of anything, this venue for chamber orchestra and poetry recitals seating those that wish to stand, the faithful ready to dance themselves clean of the horrors of the last month. When the Dewale brothers and their three pneumatic drumming compadres finally take the stage, arses are out of seats before a note has been played, the collective unconscious daring Soulwax to prove they still mean something.

They're old now, these genre-splicing Belgians - if anyone's really old anymore - yet that doesn't seem to bother the gathering of London's dance clans, because Soulwax don't sound old. They don't, in fact, sound like anything but them, their legion of drummers propelling old and new material with a fury that suggests they have a point to prove and territory to reclaim, one track mixing into the next with such seamless audacity it feels as if some laptop DJ code has been violated.

The new stuff sounds like the old stuff sounding like the new stuff, all in the best possible way, Missing Wires simmering with a sense of fun the bleached white, Krautrock stage doesn't always nod to, Krakk still capable of both reanimating the dead then dancing their bony behinds around a stage, the drumming trio, dressed all in white, duelling with each other and fuelling it all until it is something more than dance, or rock, or indie but pure Dewale, the lean 70 minute set leaving the audience both desperate for more and pleasingly sated.

Soulwax have always moved at their own pace, but when it’s one as life-affirmingly life-affirming as this, you’re happy to let them.