Borderline, London | November 6th, 2013
Since their 2003 album “Be Yourself”, The New Mastersounds music has been consistent, driving and a well needed source of British jazz-funk music. 2012’s “Out on the Faultline” is the latest album, recorded in San Francisco in the same vintage, soulful style as their previous records. With a new album in the not-so-distant future, this was a show to be excited about.
The London based ensemble BluesMix opened with a set of blues/funk fusion which got the crowd in the mood for the headline. It was very similar to the sound of The New Mastersounds, just with an added brass section and two female vocalists. I wouldn’t be surprised if in the future the two groups put together a collaboration set of some arrangement.
In appropriate style, suited guitarist Eddie Roberts entered the stage through the middle of the crowd, smoothly making his way with guitar in hand. “Okay, shall we go now?” he asked the already prepared band before running off a number of their popular and well established tracks. From the start of the show you pretty much already know what you’re in for as the style and mood doesn’t change much. Having said that, the consistent drive of their live show makes it an energetic experience for everyone, regardless if you actually like the music. After the first song most of the people in the room were nodding along. The band players barely move, but the type of music they play isn’t really about the showmanship or even the musician’s ability, it’s all about the feel and groove of their music.
After a smooth first hour or so of bopping along to the fairly linear grooves they started to pick up the playing a bit. Half way through the show several grooves took off into powerful outbursts of emotion, including an intense version of “Way Out West” from their latest album “Out on the Faultline”. It was certainly a ‘breakout’ moment in the set, where the band and audience clearly felt at their most excited. This song lead into the afrobeat groove of “Summercamp” from the same album, which only increased the growing exhilaration among the audience, made clear by the number of people dancing at the front of the crowd like no one else was around.
For me, around the midpoint of the show was the highlight of the set. After this point the band returned to good, but not great, jam grooves. It would have been great if they had continued the fierce vibe from the middle right out to the finish. However, this isn’t really the kind of music you should have to think about too much. This is music to which you can get your groove on. Wait… sorry, I thought it was 1977 for a second there.
At the end of the day, every single person in that room had a lively evening of pure funk. Plus, the four soulful guys from Leeds also commented that we were the best clappers they’ve ever had, which is always a good thing.
Great – the light heartedness of the band and feeling of happiness all round
Not so great – the early climax of the band’s energy and 11pm curfew
Check out – “Way Out West”, “Summercamp” and “Each to Their Own” from the latest album “Out on the Faultline”. If you like it, have a listen to the bands Soulive, Average White Band and Kokolo.
By Joe Burns