In a celebration of the hip hop legend Dr Dre and his work, No Strings Attached joined forces with Bristol’s Motion to present an event with a difference this May. The converted warehouse hosted an orchestral reworking that pulled together an impressive 16-piece orchestral arrangement which would include lyricists, singers and DJs in a live rendition of Dr Dre’s genre defining album, 2001.
The seminal album was released in 1999 and it was Dre’s choice of collaboration with various guest artists such as Mary J Blige, Eminem, Xzibit and Snoop Dogg that arguably make this album so special. There was no denying there was a buzz about this event, with everyone excited for what we all hoped would be a night of musical fusion that captured the sentiment of Dre’s revolutionary album.
Being the first full track of the album, it was appropriate to kick things off with The Watcher. Written by Nas, the song serves as an impressive example of the quality of Dre’s rap abilities and got the crowd suitably pumped before a quick interlude in which the lyricist paid homage to Dre’s rap mastermind. His introduction was well received by the crowd and yet, equally, there was an undeniable air of confusion that what had been dubbed an orchestra appeared to be made up of no more than a band. Still, it didn’t dull the mood and we were still eager for the act ahead.
there was an undeniable air of confusion that what had been dubbed an orchestra appeared to be made up of no more than a band
The performance slipped into Still D.R.E, and as one of the most popular songs of the album it was predictably very well received. Most notably though the true star of song – the beat, infectious as ever, was undeniably well represented by the orchestra with its moody bass and triumphant horns.
Equally memorable was Forgot about Dre, which got to the crowd happily bouncing along to the ever addictive lyrics, and the rapper’s excellent ability to manipulate his voice to imitate and switch between Eminem and Xzibit was notable. Despite the lyricist’s obvious talent though, it was difficult not to feel that additional singers and perhaps a more generally dynamic approach might have been more successful in replicating the 2001 ensemble vibe which epitomised that seminal album.
the rapper’s excellent ability to manipulate his voice to imitate and switch between Eminem and Xzibit
The whole orchestra worked well together though and frankly, in my opinion, it was refreshing to see a touring band genuinely enjoying themselves and having so much fun whilst playing. It certainly added to the atmosphere which was upbeat and high energy throughout.
They kept it fresh with a few additional tracks from The Chronic being thrown in, such as California Love and even allowed the musicians to individually show off a bit by interjecting Dre’s hip hop classics with drum and violin solos that were simply impressive.
They kept it fresh with a few additional tracks from The Chronic being thrown in
As the crowd dispersed Motion though, while it wouldn’t at all be fair to say the night was a flop, there was lingering feeling of disappointment amongst the crowd. Which seems a little harsh, yet perhaps after the promise of an orchestral rework, there was an expectation that there might be more than the occasional foray into the classics instead of what was otherwise a strict adherence to the incredible album 2001.
Words by Sarah MacPherson