A New Turn on Playing Live Electronic Music

Many who witnessed Groove Armada playing live in Copenhagen last night (Oct. 14) would be surprised to discover that what they were seeing was not precisely as it seemed.

Indeed, it was a fantastic and memorable performance, so much so that I have trouble recalling a live performance in Copenhagen that was filled with that much energy – and the audience responded appropriately. Most bands simply don’t have the repertoire Groove Armada has to call upon to get an audience jumping and dancing - and the band made liberal use of that last night.

The sound was pretty good, though not great. The primary complaint: the bass wasn’t particularly clear in the mix, a typical problem for less-experienced bands, though most bands with a bit of road experience manage to improve upon this over time. One might have expected a little more from an act with the road experience of Groove Armada and whose albums have always featured hallmark sound production clarity.

Or perhaps it was a consequence of something else, a small but troubling point:

Groove Armada consists of two people, Andy Cato and Tom Findlay. On their albums they feature a number of guest artists and for live performance (when not doing their DJ-thing) Andy and Tom arm themselves with a solid cast of musicians and put on what have long been acknowledge to be lively and innovative shows. Unfortunately, last night Mr. Cato and Mr. Findlay decided to give the show in Copenhagen a miss…yes, that’s right, they weren’t there! Groove Armada was not quite Groove Armada last night - it was a live band billed as Groove Armada and playing Groove Armada songs yet minus the (only) two actual band members! To say this is a new twist on live performance would be an understatement.

A quick investigation on the web reveals that this has been the case during this recent leg of their tour – including stops in Amsterdam and Vienna. Interesting, all of these recent stops (including Copenhagen) are not listed in the ‘Tour’ section of their official website – are Tom and Andy a bit sheepish to acknowledge a Groove Armada tour that is not quite a Groove Armada tour? Perhaps they’re a bit embarrassed to find themselves making such a blatant cash grab at the expense of their genuine fans? Nowhere in the concert promotion and advertising is the absence of the main band members indicated – the shows are faithfully billed as ‘Groove Armada’.

This is of course both a shame and a dilemma – on one hand, the show in Copenhagen was a fine performance, on the other the absence of the main performers leaves one with a bad taste - and feeling a bit cheated! (No wonder they opted not to perform their trademark, ‘At the River’ -featuring Andy’s trademark trombone playing!) What is a fan to think? Myself, I am at a loss for an explanation!

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