Posted on August 17, 2010 - by Editor
Camden Jazz Cafe
Tuesday 10th August 2010
I have been to lots and lots of London venues past and present but strangely never frequented Camdens famous Jazz Cafe and what better night to break my cherry with the always impressive Slackers and highly promising Gecko. I arrived at a fairly early hour and Gecko was already on stage and there were a fair few people in the venue (much smaller than envisaged, but cosy). Band vocalist Will, in smart attire, stood stage-centre with a more fully fledged band than the previous time I saw the guys play and all the better for it. Will’s voice is great (as is the sound) and with the backing female vocals (who I think Will mentions is his sister) they play a really refreshing set, sounding like a fusion of The King Blues and Jamie T, distinctively English, upbeat and positive.
The stand out songs include ‘What You Gonna Do?’, ‘Falling Down’, ‘Guanabana Juice’ and the gentle requests for the growing numbers of crowd
members to move closer to the stage and to participate in sing alongs are half-heartedly taken on board which is a pity. The band themselves are incredibly easy going and comfortable and play a breezy, summery show, which really generates a positive mood before the staged encore of ’54:46’ which is a medley of well known ska tunes easing into ‘Pressure Drop’ and really gets the crowd warming up their vocals and feet shuffling along. Gecko are instantly likable and genuine and hopefully high profile shows like this will only encourage them further and get more people to support the band; a great set.
The Slackers, playing the venue for their first time, after having performed at just about every single other London venue have promised two sets (or as Dave Hillyard announces later, “a lot of this and lot of that”), and a lengthy evening. As the crowd numbers build up and the temperatures rise, literally, the band make their way on stage, far more casually dressed than normal but looking at ease. The band explain the past few days of exploding tour vans and missing luggage (poor Marcus the biggest victim) have made for a odd time but they are excited by the night ahead. With their mix of ska, rocksteady, reggae, dub, soul, garage rock, and jazz, The Slackers shows are always enjoyable and danceable, however I chose to perch on the balcony level in a comfortable seat and take in the evening’s magic.
With Dave Hillyard, smart but casual on Sax, Marcus all dressed down and playing a normal bass guitar upright, Ara in black shorts and shirt, Glen, trombone and smooth voice readied, also smart casual/dapper and the ladies man Vic on organ, Agent Jay stand on the right hand of the stage guitar at hand, the New York based band strum, blow, pick, croon and massage their way through nearly two hours of pure joy. With their latest record “The Great Rocksteady Swindle” released earlier in the year, the band always have a massive back catalogue from which to pick and play, ultimately leaving someone in distress that their favourite song was missed out (on this occasion, mine with ‘Married Girl’) but there are plenty of classics. ‘Good Fried Chicken’, ‘One More Time’, ‘Mr Tragedy’ all stood out in the first set, and it took little time for the packed dance floor to be grinding and moving along to the charismatic and soulful pro’s that The Slackers are. They are consummate professionals, but play with such ease and fun that it’s near impossible not to have fun at one of their shows.
With Glen and Vic ultimately the main attraction, as they switch between classic crooning and New York heavy storytelling, the band all play their part in delivering little remarks, anecdotes, looks and laughs. The set breaks, giving everyone time to grab a beer and catch their breath for part two, which Dave Hillyard and Ara start off with ‘Tool Shed’ before Vic humorously gets turned down by a lady in the front of the crowd before breaking into ’Wasted Days’. The band plays a set full of dancing and enjoy a lengthy chorus which is
nearly a third set on its own!
With requests for ‘Propaganda’, ‘I Still Love You’ and ‘Rude and Reckless’, Glen Pine calls it a night with a inspiring and uplifting crescendo and fare well for this time round, including a mid-song mass crouch down before erupting with a high intensity dance. The Slackers delivered on every front again and leave a marked impression on all who attend, and personally I could not have asked for a better night of music and entertainment to break my duck at the Jazz Cafe.
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