Review: Fatboy Slim – Telegraph Building, Belfast

17th December 2021: Fatboy Slim played the Telegraph Building for what was to be Shine‘s 25th birthday (after a bit of a delay given the gig was meant to go through in October).

Guests for the night were Derry’s Sean Den, who laid a steady beat for the early birds; and JMX, who turned up the tempo in anticipation of the main act. Room 2 gave us Tommy McCoy, who was later joined by opener Sean Den and was high octane any time I passed through.

I’ll admit, my only experience with big raves were at The Biggest Weekend back in 2018 when Orbital and Underworld closed out their respective nights, so I have close to no idea what to talk about or what to use as reference, so bare with me if I get something beyond wrong.

As the place properly packed out through JMX‘s set into Fatboy Slim‘s I reserved to be three quarters through the crowd – only being able to make out Norman Cook’s wild silhouette occasionally through the layers of double-storied people and hands in the air. While his physical performance might have been lost, the visuals on screen and light show absolutely weren’t.

Norman’s ability to endlessly weave in pop culture hooks, visual and aural, to whip you in and out of a groove was something to behold. Stings of A-Trak‘s Remix of ‘Heads Will Roll’, ‘Play That Funky Music’, and teasing his own tracks with a finely placed snippet of “funk soul brother…” were mixed with videos of Hatsune Miku, expanding and retracting photos of Norman Cook’s gut, and portraits morphing between The Joker, Bill Murray, and George Floyd amongst others.

I suffered full-blown whiplash for an entire track as “ISOLATE”, “WASH YOUR HANDS”, “SANITIZE”, “STAY AT HOME” led into a beat drop on “TAKE YOUR MASK OFF”, which Norman cheekily mixed into PEACE MAKER! and FIRST‘s ‘Isolation’. If part of getting the crowd excited is leading them with songs, images, and slogans they recognise, it’s hard pressed to beat anything as relevant or liberating as this.

But if it’s about songs people recognise, the hooks of Fatboy Slim‘s own tracks steal the show. Remixes of ‘The Rockafeller Skank’, ‘Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat’, and the now infamous Greta Thunberg mix of ‘Right Here, Right Now’ were non-stop fun. The standout to me though was the – at times – surprisingly sombre mix of ‘Praise You’, which captured the hopeful nature of the night all too well.

Fatboy Slim will be returning to play the SSE Arena on March 18th, 2022 and Shine recently announced Folamour and Paddy Chambers to be heading the first Shine of 2022 on February 4th. – Ruairí Jordan

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