Live Reviews

Live Review: Riz MC at Fabric in London on 17 Jun

By | Published on Friday 18 June 2010

Riz MC

Previewing a show that will tour around the release of Riz MC’s debut album, ‘MICroscope’, in September, Fabric became the setting for a ‘meeting’ of the ‘MICroscope Sonic Resistance’ last night, in a performance that takes music from the album and threads a story through it; apparently we have all been infected with viruses through mainstream music and adverts and we need to be immunised via Riz’s lyrics.

Now, as a gig, the show doesn’t work – there’s too much space between each song and the sound isn’t good enough. As serious theatre, it doesn’t work – the story just isn’t strong enough. As a piece of musical theatre, it doesn’t pass the test either. But that doesn’t mean the show doesn’t work, because it does. Because it isn’t any of those things. Anyone who’s even spent any time with people who work in theatre will recognise this as that show that everyone always talks about making, but that no one ever makes. It’s just too ambitious and difficult to pull off. For anyone to even attempt such a show is worthy of a slap on the back, but to succeed with the style that Riz manages is truly commendable.

Blending music, theatre, live and pre-recorded visuals, magic and audience interaction, the ‘MICroscope’ show starts the moment you enter the venue, with a boilersuited ‘technician’ handing out face masks, which later become integral to the performance. The meeting is called and the assembled crowd shepherded out of the bar by yet more technicians. Riz is then pulled out of the audience and revealed to be the group’s leader, before his reasons for not knowing this fact are explained via a video recording taken from the laboratory of secret government programme, Sonic Immersion for Cerebral Kinesis.

From here the story weaves its way through various songs from the album, mainly with the aide of backing tracks, though space is made in the story for Riz to rap over live cello, violin and guitar during a power outage, and there’s a live freestyle and beatboxing segment to reboot the computer system following a particularly confusing scene where Riz is uploaded to the internet. On the way, actors placed in the audience are revealed to be fellow agents, while others collapse after being infected with a sonic virus and then spend the rest of the show convulsing in the sidelines.

The focus of the show moves around the room continually, keeping the audience on their toes as they carry out various tasks, from taking part in call and response elements of songs to hunting for potential government agents.

No, the story isn’t really strong enough to sustain the performance on its own, but as a means of connecting album tracks to create one seamless performance it works brilliantly. There’s plenty of self-deprecating humour, too, ensuring that the cast never allow themselves to take things so seriously that they lose the audience’s willingness to come along with them (I’m pretty sure last night was the one and only time I will ever obey an order to sit down on the floor of a club).

The constant participation and interaction, as well as Riz’s natural charm, meant that close to two hours passed in a flash. It was something very satisfying and exciting to be a part of and sends a message out to all other performing musicians: Must try harder. AHM

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