REVIEW: Wilkinson at Manchester O2 Ritz

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THE O2 Ritz in Manchester played host to the D&B artists Wilkinson for his live UK tour. Alex Costello was in the mix to capture the action.

Smoke filled air and daunting blue lights outlined a figure centre stage, elevated on a podium, one hand raised to the air, a pair of drumsticks in the other. The room goes dark, greeted by the echoed roar of the crowd who have been more then warmed up from earlier support artists.

A sea of hands reaches in the air portraying the letter W. Elated Wilkinson chants ring back and forth as they metaphorically strap themselves in, it’s here, its Wilkinson live.

Across one hour and three quarters the drum and bass artist from London defied sound barriers, pushing the genre further and cementing his status as one of the best in the business.

Mark Wilkinson known for his stage name as Wilkinson, follows on from a sold out 2016 tour. The artists who is one of the brightest new starts in dance music, is touring the country with his live UK tour, the previous night kicking off to a sell-out show in Newcastle.

The live UK tour runs alongside the announcement of Wilkinson’s new album ‘Hypnotic’, due to feature some of the finest new age drum and bass tracks, complimented with a range of extraordinary vocals. The album coincides with the final date on the tour, 18th February, played at the Roundhouse in London.

Manchester played host to the second show on Wilkinson’s live tour, taking over the O2 Ritz on Whitworth Street West under a brisk cold evening. One of the city centres top venues welcomed the wide variety of fans, eager to get off the streets and inside. The Ritz offers an abundance of viewing options from front row standing, bundles of sofa seats to the sides to a horseshoe viewing balcony.

Supporting Wilkinson on the night were TC along with drum and bass rising stars Fred V & Graffix who certainly set the tone. Dropping the instrumently impeccable track of Sub Focus’s ‘Tidal Wave’ left the fans in awe. Dribs and drabs of guests slowly but surely filled the room, the much younger guests strayed far and deep in to the wild rabble of the crowd, while the more aged attendees drifted along the bars and around the balcony.

Wilkinson centre stage, drew drumstick to the air, a quick glance to the audience, smiled and swung forth the first hit upon his electronic set up. Wilkinson looked a conductor in motion, orchestrating the audience as they gained swift momentum to the beats of the heavy D&B.

Out front of Wilkinson stood his hype man, vocally astounding and already buzzing from the crowd’s tempo he leapt back and forth, pointing at certain crowd members in acknowledgment of their attendance, a thank you in some ways. The words ‘jump jump’ and ‘Manchester, let me hear you scream’ were a recurring sound from the man’s lips.

If there was anything to admire away from the music, which boasted a non-stop track list complimented by the voices from Wilkinson’s special guests, the visual display was second to none. The deeper in to the set Wilkinson took the crowd, the more extravagant the visuals became. Pre pumped smoke before the set made way for lasers to pierce the air above, tunnels of lights beamed throughout the Ritz, truly pleasing for the eyes to watch.

Before you could blink or utter the name Wilkinson, the set drew to a close. A group picture of Wilkinson, guests and the crowd would be a memory for the coming time when we look back at what a night it had been. If there was anything to criticize about the evening you could only pinpoint a few poorly timed mosh-pits, and the unfriendly drink prices.

Fan’s screamed ‘we want more’ and chanted Wilkinson with what breathe they had left, only to be greeted with an epic surprise. Wilkinson and Co came back on the stage, only to play the monumental acclaimed track ‘Afterglow’, which back in 2014 was a nominee for the world music awards – world’s best song. Everyone in attendance within the walls of the Ritz sang along, united and for a moment we were all lost in the music.

Wilkinson provided an exceptional night for the drum and bass fans. Inspiring talent was witnessed inside the walls of the O2 Ritz. If you can I highly recommend seeing Wilkinson in one of his live performances. A spectacular night.

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