Saul Williams - live in London (Cover Artwork)

Saul Williams

live in London (2008)

live show

Saul Williams certainly has enough ideas, beats, and mind-bending lyrics to fill a good set, so it's slightly surprising he uses his A-game so sparingly.

Too much of the music tonight came from his Trent Reznor collaboration, Niggy Tardust -- a concept album that holds a mirror to mainstream ideas of race, hip-hop, rock, etc. -- but sadly, most numbers don't work live: too much space; too much noise; not enough of the aforementioned mind-bending.

To be fair, they (guitarist, keyboardist, DJ) did occasionally hit their stride, and when they did, it was fantastic: the likes of "Black Stacey," "Tr(n)igger," "Break," "Niggy Tardust," "Untimely Meditations," etc. got the whole place jumping. But it was when his band shut up and it was just Williams and his mic -- that's when things got really good -- a memorising intensity and a relentless flow of his lyrics containing, what it seems like at the time, profound answers to questions asked too much or not enough.

That's what you want out of a Williams gig: to be battered by endless ideas and thoughts delivered in such an intense way where all you can do is stand there and go "…wow…". And he can, and did occasionally do that, but not enough.

He played for almost two hours; roughly 40 minutes can start a revolution in your mind; roughly 1-hour-20 reminds you that you've just paid far too much for cheap lager and need to pee.