Originally published: Clash Magazine
Images: Stephen Fourie
The last time Azari & III where in the capital they were supporting Friendly Fires’ pre-release show for their sophomore album ‘Pala’. Little attention was paid to the dance act on the night, performing early doors to a meagre crowd following the few pieces of web-based hyperbole at the time.
Returning with their eponymous debut album in the can, tonight’s performance by the Toronto-based quartet is met with baited breath by a burgeon crowd of hedonists bouncing off each other like bees in a coke can. The buzz is understandable – and palpable – as their take on tried and tested house music stands above the vacuous bleating that the genre has often produced as a whole since its heyday.
But it’s on a live-scale that Azari & III come into their own, as the production duo of Dinamo Azari and Alixander III reel the crowd in with ‘Manhooker’ and cut them loose with ‘Hungry For The Power’. The temperature and entertainment value of their set is turned up furthermore by the confident and outlandish stage theatrics of Fritz and Cedric, a vocal-pairing that demand more attention than two queens bickering over the last feather boa and stilettos in Soho.
Their nostalgic yet dynamic take on Nineties house is all consuming, and their comparisons to the likes of Hercules And Love Affair are well deserved. Bass-driven tracks like ‘Lost In Time’ and ‘Manic’ are intertwined with syncopated beats and swirls of synth to make for a hard and heavy flowing set. Stripping down to their trousers and torso, Cedric and Fritz grope and grind a throbbing atmosphere with set finisher ‘Into The Night’, putting the ‘amp’ into their unabashed camp performance.