Gallery: The Roots @ Somerset House (London; Thursday 12th July 2018)  

No wonder it was a fully packed house; when The Roots come to town, on the rare occasion they stop over in London, they inevitably gather together hundreds of music enthusiasts for unforgettable shows.

After 11 years, the Philadelphia hip-hop ensemble visited the scenic Somerset House courtyard for the second time. They did it as part of the Somerset House Summer Series, which has brightened up London’s July event calendar, and they did it bringing their usual overflowing musicianship shaken together with their free-spirited stage presence.

After all, to call The Roots a hip-hop band is diminutive. In their 30-year career, Questlove and partners have explored the full spectrum of Afro-American music, absorbing soul, funk, R&B and blues and making them their own. Their aim has always been to portray the state of things in the US black communities; exposing their fights, backing their struggles and supporting their daily efforts. Not that the situation in the UK is a bed of roses, which is why their socially and politically driven lyrics are more topical than ever, on both shores of the Atlantic.

Their first London show in three years was indeed a whirlwind of moods, between upbeat moments, like the “Break You Off” rendition, to ‘universal’ and sing-a-long episodes, such as “The Seed 2.0” and “You Got Me”, including more conscious passages, like “The Fire”, and plenty of covers, like Guns’n’Roses’ “Sweet Child of Mine” or Curtis Mayfield’s “Move On Up”.

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