Live Review: Red Bull Music Academy presents 12x12

Following our recent competition BlackPlastic figured we better taste the pudding with Red Bull's 12x12 event at the Scala.

Be under no illusion - this was a made for TV production with a line up designed to present the maximum number of photo opportunities. Not that the line up wasn’t worthy or even good, but the whole concept, designed to celebrate London’s dance culture, in many ways missed the point. 12 DJs and producers each playing their biggest hit for 12 minutes with more photographers in attendance than punters makes for a strange vibe and ironically, something unlike any London club night over the last 20 years of nights that we were there to celebrate.

Forgive us for being churlish, we’re sure it looked great in the trade press and the event’s corporate veneer did mean we had unprecedented access to the stars. It also made for some compulsively bizarre viewing, MJ Cole gurning his way through an MP3 of 'Sincere' stands out - twelve minutes just about saved by the bizarreness and Cole having Nero's rather more contemporary dubstep remix of the track to fall back on.

Arthur Baker was a ubiquitous presence throughout the Scala for personal photo-ops but when he played Planet Rock you remembered why this clash of German electro and funk was so epoch-making. Martyn Ware predictably played 'Temptation', unpredictably, he played a version with a 90s Euro-dance beat and sang over the top. Just as the embarrassment got too much, like your dad doing karaoke, he saved it by playing his stylish, 80s ballad 'Let Me Go', and that shows what a good song 'Let Me Go' is.

Despite all the pretence, it was the drum and bass DJs who stole the show for the crowd by playing jump-up greatest hits sets with the night’s genuine highlight coming when Ms Dynamite joined Zinc on stage for a rip-snorting p.a. of 'Wile Out'.

We suppose 12x12 proved that the most important element of any night is something that all the DJs and crates of Red Bull in the world can’t make up for, something that Russ Abbott presciently referred to as ‘atmosphere.’

BP x