Kevin Saunderson looked every bit the Detroit techno pioneer as he stepped into Hearn Street Car Park’s limelight last Saturday. Smooth, understated, assured, he slinked his way on and meandered around his old hooks like the cat that had had plenty of the cream but was now willing to share it around. He’s back on the road with a refreshing duality of purpose; not only is he promoting his new ‘History Elevate’ retrospective, the title of which tells its own story, but he’s seeking inspiration for fresh material for his now two decade-old project, ‘Inner City’, which draws back together main vocalist Shanna Jackson (aka Paris Grey) and Kevin’s wife, Ann. This was an extremely rare opportunity to see these three old cats prowl the boards once more, and they didn’t disappoint.
Mr. Saunderson showed a subtle sense of occasion and an excellent sensitivity to the nature of this now regular East London dance venue. He was able to make the car park seem grander than it is with some stadium-worthy rhythms when out on his own, whilst reining the crowd in for the live stuff later on, a transition he skilfully manned without pomp or swagger. Notable was his readiness to communicate with the crowd; up close you could often see a wry smile or a raised eyebrow as he drew the nicely balanced collective on the other side of the decks towards him in more ways than one. This rang true with his recent comments that UK crowds are acutely aware of what’s happening with dance music, and have been for many, many years. Where better to start your inspiration-drawing tour than in a city where you feel you have to set the precedent for what comes afterwards; both in terms of your live performance and for future material.
Paris Grey and Ann Saunderson had a ball as “Good Love” and “Hallelujah” rang out over the Hearn Street crowd, and Ann’s husband looked delighted to have stepped out of the limelight and beamed with pride as he looked on as the fruits of distant labours were picked and juiced readily. There was a lovely moment as Saunderson offered the controls over to one of his chosen remixers, Claude VonStroke. Two big men exchanged a glance and a genuine grin apiece, the like of which you rarely see in today’s booth. VonStroke didn’t disappoint, seamlessly inviting the crowd to spread across the bays once more, but tonight was about Kevin Saunderson and the return of ‘Inner City’ to live prominence. It was a proper treat to see such frontrunners take things back whilst moving things forward with such stature and humility. Hats off Eastern Electrics.