****** (6 out of 6 stars) July 7 at Orange, Roskilde Festival
Philadelphia legends The Roots have, for a very long time, been a band that haven’t quite reaped the share of mainstream success that they deserve. After a stunning show on the Orange stage this evening, it is hard to understand why this band isn’t playing on every single sound system in Roskilde Festival’s camping areas. That said, after their stunning performance, few would disagree that The Roots are surely one of the best bands to grace Roskilde’s main stage so far.
Led by their charismatic and indefatigable frontman Tariq ‘Black Thought’ Trotter, The Roots were stunning from the word go, unleashing popular crowd-friendly numbers such as ‘The Fire’ as early as thirteen minutes into the show.
An emotional dedication to the recently departed Adam Yauch of New York hip-hop pioneers Beastie Boys and a cheeky live version of popular anthem ‘Jungle Boogie’ were but a pair of highlights in the preliminary stages of the show, an opening that showcased the depth and breadth of the band, as percussive sequences and tuba solos ruptured across the expansive Orange scene.
Midway through the proceedings, and the pits at the front of Orange were steadily filling with energetic fans as The Roots churned out one passionate number after another, gelling together admirably in a way that the focus was never solely on main man Tariq, or on the extremely energised tuba player, or on either of the impeccable drummers, including group co-founder Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, but rather on the chemistry between the band as an entirety.
This connectivity was reinforced towards the end of the show, as The Roots showed off their dexterity, lashing out a seismic cover of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Immigrant Song’ interspersed between probably the best take on Guns N’ Roses’ evergreen monster ‘Sweet Child o’ Mine’ and a daring snatch at a brief, albeit ingenious rock-infused, take on R&B legend Curtis Mayfield’s ‘Move on Up’. Post curtain call tracks featured the well-known tune ‘The Seed (2.0)’ alongside a series of enigmatic covers that paved the way for a stage exit that well and truly reflected the best of the Orange scene’s best show of Roskilde 2012 so far.
The Roots are what hip-hop used to be way back when: shun the pathetic self-referential, revenge-tinged bollocks du jour and swap it for purely eclectic, instrument-rich genius at its most refined. This is what The Roots conjured up at the Orange stage on Saturday. Best show at Roskilde so far in this reviewer’s book? Probably, maybe almost certainly, yeah!