The famous Dingwalls venue in Camden doesn’t look like much from the outside – in fact it doesn’t look like anything from the outside, buried deep beneath Lock 17. Still, our expectations ran high as eight piece Californian Funk\Soul aficionados Breakestra (described as ‘utter legends’ in the scene) are rumoured to have one of the funkiest shows around, one guaranteed to get the crowd grooving like it’s going out of fashion.
Support act Homecut kicked off the night in classic style. This UK based 7 piece Experimental\Soul\Hip-Hop band jump-started the atmosphere with impressive mic control from the expert lyricist and front man Testament, beautiful jazz style vocals from the female vocalist and a healthy dose of old school beats, piano and slick baselines. As the set progressed the crowd surge forward with fresh cries of approval: I found myself totally engaged with Homecut to the point where I felt a pang of disappointment when the set finished. They end on a high, with a superb cross-section of unexpected and very interesting covers (that I won’t name in case I spoil the surprise when you see them live!)
After a brief interlude trilby sporting front man Miles Tackett led his crack team of veteran musicians onto the stage with an air of cool confidence and after a (very) few words both stage and crowd exploded into life. Funk baselines, skank riffs and jazz brass permeate the small venue and after exchanging gleeful glances with my beautiful companion we knew this was going to be good. The beat held tempo as the crowd’s enthusiasm grew. I took a second to appreciate my surroundings and found that (with the exception of a surly looking doorman) I couldn’t see a single person who wasn’t dancing (or at least doggedly head bombing) along to the rhythm of Matt Wilding’s incredible drum work.
After twenty intense minutes singer Afrodyte joined the group on stage and I could instantly see how the quote “think James Brown” ended up in the press release. To all intents and purposes this WAS James Brown reincarnated in woman form. With a new set of outstanding vocals the music took on a new dimension and, without any drop in pace, began to identify more with the soul \ mo-town of the late 60’s - I found myself drawing comparisons with George Clinton and Funkadelic. After a relentless barrage of soulful and funky tune after soulful and funky tune Breakestra left an exhausted looking audience panting and stomping for more as the octet bowed, retired from the stage and returned 30 seconds later to perform one on the longest encores I have ever witnessed. With final crashes of drums and souring trumpet notes Breakestra ended their phenomenal set leaving us grinning and trying to decide if we’d seen a better gig in 2009.
10.5 / 11
For tour dates, check out the preview here.
Review and Photography by James Hough (AKA MintyHit)