LIVE REVIEW: The Hot 8 Brass Band @ The Boiler Shop (8.5.17) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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I’ve always enjoyed the Hot 8 Brass Band on record and as a big fan of the NoLa sound, hopes were high for my first live encounter. So why did I find it so dispiriting? The band are certainly great musicians, and authenticity doesn’t come into it (they’re as authentic as it comes and authenticity is a fairly bogus concept anyway) but tonight it all felt a bit hollow.

I’m sure it’s a different matter if you catch them on their home turf but on a dismal Monday night confronted by a sizeable crowd of pissed students, they seemed to leave no cliché unturned in their efforts to move feet and shift merch. The band are all about adding funk and hip hop flavours to the traditional second line sound but whereas a band like Youngblood Brass Band do this with invention and verve, tonight the Hot 8 Brass Band seemed to simply reference Luniz and shout “funky” a lot, eschewing some of their more interesting material for the familiar and obvious.

I wasn’t expecting anything too serious, no sombre reading of Just A Closer Walk With Thee, but I also wasn’t expecting the awful cover of Love Will Tear Us Apart either. They’re a hardworking party band, sure, and I don’t begrudge them making a living from giving people what they want, but from the repetitive call-and-response sections to the closing, carefully managed stage invasion, the whole gig felt like a great tradition reduced to the status of novelty wedding band.

They’ve been doing this for more than 20 years now, and perhaps that’s the problem – spontaneity and freshness are hard to maintain if you tour this hard. Having not seen them before, I’ve no idea if this was a typical gig but it saddens me to say I’m in no rush to repeat the experience. I’ll stick with the records and hope Rebirth Brass Band come over soon.

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