Fat Freddys Drop at the Brixton Academy
These New Zealand soul superstars definitely “do it for the love of music”. This self-proclaimed “seven-headed soul monster” has sold out tickets for two gigs at The O2 Academy, Brixton, and it’s not hard to figure out why. The band thrive off of live music: it gives them an opportunity to experiment, their gigs become creative, marathon jamming sessions. Singles are skillfully reworked into new sounds that come jam-packed with instrumentals, riffs and the electrifying guitar solos of Jetlag Johnson, with some songs lasting over fifteen minutes. Their music morphs classical reggae with dub, soul, funk, hip-hop mixed with some techno flavours, giving their performances the quality of a chilled DJ set.
Dallas Tamaira’s vocals bring the soul. His silky smooth voice, on numbers such as Mother Mother and Blackbird,(both from the album Blackbird), is mesmerizing: he radiates cool and talent. Each gig is unique and whilst the rambling jams, at times, seem unfocused, for the most part, it pays off with moments of utterly transcendental music-making. This – along with the smoky lights that shift from dark reds and greens, to golds, silvers and vibrant pinks – hypnotizes the audience into a state of blissful oblivion. They are one of the most cathartic bands to watch. They play variations on Razor at several points, incorporating it into other songs, rendering it the anthem of the night. The electronic beats create a collective pulse for the audience, compelling them to dance even two hours into the set.
The band appeal to all ages: at the front a seventy-year-old man dances as if he is twenty. But no one can match the vitality of multi-instrumentalist Joe “Hopepa” Lindsay, who is greeted with cheers of “we love you!” and “‘you’re mad!” as he dances his heart out, wearing sparkly hotpants, a vest top and purple tassels, which are forever getting caught in his trombone. His stage presence is exceptional, and he gives the audience exactly what they want. The crowd’s screams reverberate throughout the impressive venue as he leads the band back onstage for a thirty-minute encore. Never has there been a man so proud to shake his booty and have fun. Hopepa embodies the band’s spirit; they are carefree, talented and, above all, a joy to watch.
Photos: Guifré de Peray
For further information about Fat Freddy’s Drop and future events visit here.
Watch the video for Blackbird here: