Reflecting on playing Illicit Grooves at Spiritland & that sound system

So, this is not a review, but a reflection of The Return of the Illicit Groove set I played over 5 hours last Saturday (2nd March 2019) at Spiritland in Kings Cross and on that legendary sound system.

I’ve always loved long sets and playing from 3pm-8pm was an ideal opportunity to go #AcrossTheTracks and really explore #GroovesForTheGlobalLeftfield.  The set opened with Grace Jones – Art Groupie and closed with The Pointer Sisters – Don’t It Drive You Crazy and in between included jazz dance, latin rythms, Brazillian vibes, Soul, rare groove, Drum n Bass and reggae.

Gig flyer

I have to admit that I am so looking forward to hearing the playback of the set once it is up on the Spiritland social media and website. The atmosphere was marvellous throughout and the reactions from customers and staff were more than positive so I’m intrigued to hear it back.




Courtesy of Mark Blee from Ease Your Mind and Ray Pittson from The Fish Party there is photographic evidence of some of the music I played with tracks from Snowboy (the brilliant The Triple Bluff), Candido (Candido’s Funk), Ahmad Jamal (the awesome Illicit Groove favourite Yellow Felllow), two different versions of Working Week’s Venceramos, the Leroy Hutsonesque Morning Spring by The Copeland Davis Group, a brilliant reggae version of Cymande’s The Message by Tinga Stewart, various tracks from the Jeff the Fish’s MJDC compilation Modern Jazz Dance Classics Vol. 1, the brilliant My Dreams from London Elektricity featuring the sublime vocals of Robert Owens, both sides of the new 7″ from Ruby Rushton  and various B-sides from 7″ by Mr Bloe, Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg, Isaac Hayes and Bruce Ruffin.

with mark blee

So, what of that soundsystem.  Well, I have to be honest it is awesome.  People sat right by the speakers were able to talk normally without shouting yet at no point in the venue could you not hear the music, that’s how clear and warm the sound is.  The bass lines on the London Elektricity, the Tinga Stewart and the Bruce Ruffin tracks in particular, filled the room with something like a luxurious sound bath.  Those iconic big brass knobs of the rotary mixer are great to use and had something of a Hammer House of Horror mad scientist’s laboratory look and feel about them.

Spiritland mixer

Thanks to Miche for boooking The Return of the Illicit Groove in for the debut set, obviously looking forward to the next time.  Also worth saying how brilliant the staff are at Spiritland, very interested in the music as well as really good at their jobs.  The two managers on that day , Josh and the wonderful V, looked after us very nicely indeed and it was gratifying to hear from V how much she enjoyed the set.  I also love love that my first cup of coffee included a lovely and subtle reminder of who I was and why I was there.

DJ coffee

Just as further reflection, I have played some lovely gigs in my life; warming up for Incognito at Canvas in Bournemouth, the three gigs I played in one magical weekend in Belgrade, a four hour set at the BBE Audiolounge and various others all spring to mind and this first time DJIng at Spiritland is definitely another memory made.

Oh, and I definitely recommend the Braybrooke Keller Lager, bloody lovely.

Beer at Spiritland

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