A living legend in underground U.K. beats, Nightmares on Wax brings a bouncing, boisterous, hybrid band-soundsystem to the Mezzanine on Friday with the sole goal of making people feel good.
George Evelyn, a native of Leeds, England, is playing 13 dates in the U.S. for the first time since 2008. He is touring behind the new record “Feelin’ Good,” his seventh.
It’s also arguably the most positive recording by Evelyn, a seven-year resident of the vacation island of Ibiza, Spain.
“Doing this ‘Feelin’ Good’ album was a chance for me to represent my soundtrack to feeling good, and where I am at,” he says. “I’m doing things that are more close to my heart than I’ve ever done, and tapping into what really makes me happy.”
On Friday, Evelyn gathers vocalists Ricky Ranking and Mozez (of Zero 7), percussion from Shovell (of M People) and drummer Grant Kersha — plus his DJ skills — for something midway between a live show and DJ set featuring “Feelin’ Good” and some Nightmares on Wax classics.
“All totally loose, no click-track, nothing like that, all just playing together,” he says. “Every gig just gets better. I feel like we’re on fire now and ready to hit the stage in S.F.”
Evelyn started in Leeds in 1984 on reel-to-reel machines and turntables, creating mega-mixes and cutting things like Humphrey Bogart dialogue into Afrika Bambaataa & the Soulsonic Force’s “Planet Rock.”
They literally sounded like nightmares on wax, he says.
Among the first artists signed to Warp records, he made his name with groundbreaking 1990s albums “Smokers Delight” and “Carboot Soul” as well as 2006’s “In A Space Outta Sound.”
When he decamped for Ibiza, things got a lot more dreamy. Evelyn lives with his wife and young daughter in a farmhouse in one of the sunniest, most beautiful places on Earth. He has more space and time, and fewer distractions — all great for writing.
“It definitely changed my life being here,” he says. “I feel like I’ve come home.”
As negative thought patterns and behaviors of his youth in Leeds have fallen away (“Later in life, it doesn’t serve you,” he says), today he hopes to remind people that feeling good is only a thought away: “Everybody has a right to feel good. I’ve not reinvented the wheel. It’s something that’s really simple.”
IF YOU GO
Nightmares on Wax
Where: Mezzanine, 444 Jessie St.
When: 8:30 p.m. Friday
Contact: (415) 625-8880, www.mezzaninesf.com
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