Black Steele and his Yamaha DX100

Mad -- and Memorable

Mad Professor
with Black Steele and Ariwa Sound System
The Starfish Room
Vancouver, B.C.
Saturday, November 16, 1996

Review by Daniel Ewacha
Photography by Rodney Gitzel

The show poster was blatantly misleading, but perhaps I should shoulder the blame for showing up at 10pm, only to end up doing my best to nurse the one pint I could afford while waiting two hours for the show to start. You see, right up until they walked on stage, I assumed that Ariwa Sound System and Black Steele were two different bands opening tonight's show, when, in fact, they are two individuals who sacrificed themselves and their talents to the Mad Professor's whims.

Ariwa Sound System So, I spent two hours listening to pre-recorded music ranging from ambient to techno to reggae [Rodney: some of us suspected that maybe this WAS the show... ], rather than seeing two opening groups. Don't get me wrong: I love that music, but I guess my ignorance and empty glass were getting the best of me. But, in the end, it would have been worth waiting all day and all night to see these three brilliant musicians take the stage and give the capacity audience one of the best live shows I've seen this year.

At literally two minutes to midnight, the Mad Professor took his place behind his mixing desk, with Black Steele on mini-keyboard and Ariwa on mic. For those not familiar with the Mad Professor and his music, I will attempt to explain: taking pre-recorded vocal tracks and music, the Mad Professor sits behind a control desk with various panels, knobs and levers. He manipulates the vocals and music with different sound effects and by slowing down or speeding up the song. Black Steele meanwhile added various melodies and Ariwa sang along and, at times, added some heavy bass guitar riffs. It all comes down to what the Mad Professor wants to hear -- or, actually, what he wants us to hear.

the Mad Professor and his toys It was quite fascinating to watch the Mad Professor and his cohorts in action, but the feeling -- the mood, the vibe -- was just as exciting. The audience was lifted to a state of euphoria, although the feeling was a bit eerie and frightening, at times. It's kind of indescribable: there was a sense of peace and love weighing heavy in the air -- along with the smell of marijuana... Speaking against racism and violence, Ariwa and Black Steele brought the audience members choser to each other as well as to the music. They also brought the audience closer to the performers, inviting two individuals up on stage to display their M.C. abilities (à la Ice-T). Both fared decently, to the delight of the audience.

The Mad Professor doesn't put on a show or an exhibition -- rather, it's an experience. The stage lights didn't change colour once, yet this concert was more memorable than most big-name shows that have come to town lately -- or even in the future.

First published in Drop-D Magazine on November 29, 1996

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