LIVE REVIEW: Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Ladies of Midnight Blue @ The Cluny (18.4.15) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Newcastle, New Jersey and New Orleans; all new, all represented at The Cluny on Friday night, and I mean represented. Hannabiell and Yilis of the Ladies of Midnight Blue are magic; I absolutely love them, and so did the packed out Cluny tube. A bundle of pure energy, the pair beat their djembes and congas in perfect harmony, filling the room with African and Latin rhythms. Tyler (the bass trombone player of the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble) made an appearance, tantalisingly whetting the appetite for the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble boys who were bouncing in the crowd with the rest of us. I’ve seen these ladies perform numerous times and, though they are usually brilliant, they really blew me away this time. They may not be Geordie girls by birth, but they definitely are now, and Newcastle should be extremely proud to have them.

Anticipation reaching bursting point, the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble were ready to go and, squeezed onto the small stage, the nine piece crew (featuring three trumpets, two trombones, one euphonium, a bass, a guitar and a drum kit, oh and nine vocalists) are not perfectly polished musicians individually, but as a group they equal a lot more than the sum of their parts. Some purists might have bemoaned the fact they are no longer purely brass and drums, but the overall effect of the music is better now; this was definitely an improved band.

Just the name of their hometown New Orleans conjures up a certain image, jazz and brass being to the fore, and these guys certainly lived up to that. Not traditional jazz, but a mixture of funk and hip hop with the occasional solo from a horn or even a Funkadelic-esque guitar. They played some of their classic tracks, with an extended version of Kryptonite that unequivocally tore the roof off the sucker. To say it was dope would be an understatement. This gig was about more than the music though; it was about pure energy, love, unity and a deep connection between the band and the audience, who were bouncing as one in sweaty harmony with the nine lads onstage.

By the way, you might have noticed my use of hip hop parlance a moment ago, it’s the HBE vibe rubbing off on a cat. I met them a couple of years ago and taught them a bit of Geordie, they forgot about that though and stuck to “aieet?” instead of the “alreet?” I’d learned them. Never mind. The language of music spoke at this gig and with rumours of a return in August, I’d definitely catch them again.

Photo by: Joe Fowler

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