They say that family members have a natural affinity for performing together, and that certainly seemed to hold true for brother and sister duo SD-JEM, who took to the stage at London’s esteemed Shepherd’s Bush Empire to support Cher Lloyd on her Sticks & Stones tour. With an audience comprised almost solely of excitable young kids and a smattering of their parents, dragged along for the ride, it’s important to remember that in many ways, this represents music fans in their purest, most innocent of forms – raw and untapped. Praise has to be given to SD-JEM then, who by the end of their set-list had the crowd eating from the palm of their hand, totally engaged in the call and response feel-good factor of their pumped up party tunes.
Through a combination of the duo’s slickly orchestrated dance routines and radio-friendly tunes, which neatly pick up the baton for urban-flavoured pop where N-Dubz left off, SD-JEM ended up coming away with a rousing crowd-reaction scarce seen for support acts, and for a group still very much in their infancy, that has to be applauded. For Shanel and Denis, who make up the duo, there’s a confidence and energy to their performance that really feeds off that audience reaction, filling that wide open stage with a presence far greater than the two of them. And here’s where the family-factor comes in, that almost unerring ability to know what the other will do, a second before they do it – and as such, there’s a supreme tightness to the whole SD-JEM live show that really fits the glossy, sugar-rush feel of their songs.
With a host of tracks including Addicted To The Dancefloor, Let Go, Bass Drum and current single Roll With Me, there’s the immediate sense that SD-JEM’s music is definitively keyed in to a party setting. For the young kids arrayed in front of them, this is like their first taste of proper nightlife, a souped-up world of hedonism and clubland grooves that awaits them a few short years in the future. It’s confident, big, full of presence; and that’s what these kids want to latch on to, something that makes them feel part of something on a far wider scale. Where other acts in the urban-pop vein have often faltered at the first few hurdles – lacking the cohesiveness to keep standards up - there’s already the sense that SD-JEM have the momentum to go much further, the songs and the proficiency to carry them forward on a wave of popular appeal. The UK has been calling out for a cool, street-smart new group with a unique-twist for quite some time now, and last night, that call was answered in fine style by SD-JEM.
Roll With Me is released on the 20th May.