2002, for some it doesn't seem too long ago for others it feels like a
lifetime and for those 85,000 people who experienced the Delta Heavy tour where Sasha, John Digweed and Jimmy Van M went on a six week American road trip it must seem like only yesterday. The success of the tour is testament to the vibrant club culture that continues to blossom in the US while the UK scene is starting to slump. Delta Heavy was DJ's touring like rock or pop musicians do and it worked, course it doesn't hurt when you've got heavy hitters like Sasha and Diggers sleeping in the back of the bus.
The DVD release on February 7th promises to show us what happened behind the scenes. Was it three exhausted DJ's crawling off a bus to spin a couple of records or was it Rock and Roll electronic style, read on...
Produced and directed by Ben Turner, who has championed electronic music worldwide for 15 years, and executive produced by Sasha & John Digweed themselves, Delta Heavy promises to be a compelling and intimate documentary film that takes the viewer behind the scenes of the largest DJ tour ever mounted in America. Sadly it fell just slightly short.
While the DVD does give us a glimpse behind the scenes of the tour there really wasn't enough happening to astound and inspire. Some of the footage is superb but watching it you do get the feeling that you are missing all the fun stuff that's happening off camera. What's worrying is that the events are so timid and dull that you start to believe the tour did simply consist of the three DJ's sitting in the back of the bus sleeping,
watching DVD's, stopping at 7/11 for sustenance and every so often getting off the bus to spin a couple of tracks.
Nobody really had very much to say for themselves except for Sasha's mate Sparrow who I had the pleasure/misfortune of sitting beside for the first half of the screening here in New York, in the few brief segments he appeared on the film we saw the kind of mad individual that we had hoped the touring party would be filled with but sadly wasn't, apparently John Digweed refused to allow the nutter on the bus with them. They could have done with a bit of personality to spice things up. That been said the DVD give the viewer a rare opportunity to see the true character of those involved, after all there's nothing better than a bit of sleep deprivation to subdue any urge to act cool in front of the cameras. Both Sasha and Digweed are who you expect them to be, professional and relaxed; the type of presence they radiate while behind the decks of a crowded club follows them around in real life.
The real downfall of the Delta Heavy DVD is the precision and
professionalism that the tour was pulled off with, it's impossible to make
an engaging film when everything goes right. There was no disastrous sound failures, no Wild West sheriffs running the crew out of town and no seedy club owners hustling for a bigger slice of the cash on the night. This is not a story about redemption in the face of adversity; it's a story about three guys doing what they do for a living albeit under slightly unusual circumstances.
But the Delta Heavy DVD does have its strong points, firstly the music as
you can expect is pretty outstanding even if the segments from the venues don't last the full progression of the tracks, featured music includes tracks from Sasha himself, Junkie XL and pulse raising moment as Bedrock's Heaven Scent is dropped. I would have preferred more even, if it was a couple of full tracks as special features but what can you do. The features do include full uncut interviews with Sasha and Digweed, the Sasha one being especially informative which makes me wonder why they didn't include more of it in the film proper but at least it's there, the DVD also includes the usual spattering of Bios and Discographies but it's nothing you can't already read from many web sources.
Still in a world devoid of quality scene related videos there is
definitely a need for films such as this, for all it's faults it is a
snapshot of a time when Electronic Music was at it's peak here in the USA a precipice it has of yet to descend from in the same way it has suffered in the UK. Those who went to a Delta Heavy gig will be reminded of the great time they had, those who didn't will really feel like they missed out and those elsewhere in the world where the club scene has been knocked back will finally understand how over here the party is still pumping. Delta Heavy is required viewing for all fans of Sasha and Digweed and deserves a place in every clubbers collection just don't expect to see many TV sets chucked from hotel windows after all this aint rock and roll.