Well my first, and in all honesty probably last, visit to Mama Roux’s in Birmingham was certainly eventful. Once inside the first thing you notice is that a lot of thought has gone into Mama Roux’s and the décor is sublime, the next thing you notice is that it’s unbelievably tiny. Honestly, it makes the Alma inn in Bolton look roomy, and 45 minutes before the first band were to play and the sold-out gig was already ominously crowded.
To say France’s Uneven Structure seemed cramped on the tiny stage would be an understatement, the makeshift stage extension of flight cases with monitors perched on top made it possible for them to stand up, but it did seem to hamper their performance somewhat once their energetic set began.
Musically they were fantastic, and their drummer Arnaud Verrier was possibly one of the highlights of the gig, playing complex polyrhythms with flare and an almost inhuman speed, effortlessly shifting gears between fast and slow and playing with a huge passion. Crushing Riffs and beautiful ambient sections serving as a fantastic platform to showcase the vocals of Matthieu Romarin. Their set was both majestic and intense.
Headliners Twelve Foot Ninja were something else, and the crowd were absolutely nuts for them. Honestly, I knew they’d be fun, but they were the complete package and the crowd’s enthusiasm was seriously next level. A Heavy fusion of jazz, funk and enough groove to have the crowd surging against the stage like high tide, meeting the barrage of riffs and drums from the stage itself.
The sound was incredible and the bands stage lights made for a visually spectacular show. Performance wise there was an incredible amount of energy on stage, and musically they were incredibly tight, changing stylistic gears effortlessly building the crowd up to rabid levels of intensity in the ridiculously tiny venue. They ticked every box for a standout show without hesitation. I’m really looking forward to seeing them again, albeit at a different venue.
If there was a downside to their incredible set, then it was down to the venue itself. The lack of a front barrier meant that as the crowd for Twelve Foot Ninja continued to surge into the front row, I found myself with my feet pinned beneath the flight cases laughably acting as the front of the knee height stage, thus rendering me with the mobility of your average Subbuteo player.
As wave after wave of crowd surged forward, and as knees bent at angles they were never intended to, whilst being jumped on almost constantly, I became worried I might break my legs, more importantly might not get a decent shot of the band.
Honestly, I’ve never felt in more danger at a gig before, 300 people going berserk in a venue of that size without a nod to safety was out and out dangerous. Leaving the gig with bruised feet, swollen knee, bruised back and sides, there was however the feeling that seeing Twelve Foot Ninja play such a storming set was pretty much worth the next few days on some damn strong painkillers.
WORDS AND PHOTOS BY RICH PRICE