Worldwide Awards 2015

Koko, London

This was the 10th Worldwide Awards event, and with 16 acts on the bill, the line-up was as adventurous, on-point and culturally diverse as you’d expect for such a landmark anniversary.

Gilles Peterson keeps coming back to the well-worn but grandiose KOKO, and it’s obvious that this is where he feels at home. He schmoozed, he swaggered, with his manner flitting from diamond geezer one minute to bourgeois the next, gushing over the plethora of artists he’d managed to bring together under one over-sized disco ball. Despite its size, the venue was brimming by 10pm music enthusiasts were spilling out over the balconies and, might I add, gyrating against the banisters.

An early highlight was the London producer Lil Silva, whose set was based around the kind of alternative, creeping RnB vibe heard on Mabel and Don’t You Love. Although we had to squint to see him in the shadows, his sounds weren’t nearly as timid, and 20 minutes of echoing vocals and raw twists seduced the crowd. Kelis and André 3000’s classic Millionaire wasn’t a bad way to finish either.

The Dorian Concept Trio took to the stage next. Lead by the multi-instrumentalist Oliver Johnson, they are the only act to have appeared at the Worldwide Awards twice. It’s obvious that the three of them are very close, and we were mesmerised by drummer Cid Rim, who was the real pièce de résistance of an emotionally deep performance that juxtaposed subtle melodies with clangs of trippy prog-rock.

The next couple of hours, however, were to take a slightly chaotic turn. Don’t get us wrong, the acts were brilliant, and their miniscule 10 or 15 minute time slots wasn’t actually a problem, rather it was the sequencing of artists that felt a little erratic.

Following Dorian Concept was French producer Nikitch, who played a fantastic electro-trap set evoking Evian Christ, with his track Radiated Light bringing the place to life. But with his high-octane sound hitting a peak around 10.30pm, it was something of a premature climax. Then we were strangely teased back down with a dreamy, ambient performance by the earnest Taylor McFerrin who really proved his versatility: drifting from Bonobo vibes with a stripped-back rendition of Decisions to beat-boxing and smooth RnB. Immediately accelerating the tempo was Alex Patchwork, followed by a warm and dozy performance from Melanie de Biasio who, despite the Euro Tunnel fire, made it just in time to sing and to receive her award for ‘Session of the Year’. Then, if our ears hadn’t been pulled in enough directions already, Marshall Allen and the Heliocentrics arrived. Their stage presence and chemistry was incredible and our eyes and ears feasted on a set of the kind of psychedelic jazz described by Gilles to Dummy as “the source material that contextualises emerging artists.” Those two hours were teeming with musical genius, yet the lack of natural progression was definitely disorienting, and you could sense a growing restlessness amongst the crowd.

Fortunately, a euphoric set from the the experimentally-minded beatmaker Lone saved the evening after the Worldwide winners were announced. Taking over was the very well selected Italian producer Crisci with his new project Clap Clap! Crisci gave a fleeting yet unforgettable performance peppered with tribal samples, and after Kuj Yato he received the biggest “clap clap” of the night so far.

Finally, Gilles introduced the most anticipated act of the night: Fatima. Performing with her Eglo Live Band, and nabbing the ‘Album of the Year Award’ for Yellow Memories, she literally glowed under the spotlight at KOKO. Hopping over the mic lead during three of our favourite tracks from the album – Biggest Joke Of All, Do Better and Circle – she justified her status as a classy, colourful breakout star.

Seeing off the end of the night was Brownswood’s own Anushka, who was followed by Atjazz, and by this point we felt pretty bloated with music. But overall, the evening was exceptionally ambitious, and did exactly what Gilles Peterson intended for it to do: showcase and reward new talent, no matter how obscure or how small – an achievement proven when UK MC Lil Simz collected her ‘Breakthrough Artist of The Year’ award. Rather ironically, Orlando Julius couldn’t make the event because of visa issues. They’re not called the Worldwide Awards for nothing.