LIVE REVIEW: Hypnotic Brass Ensemble @ The Cluny, Newcastle (29.01.23) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Hypnotic Brass Ensemble occupy a curious place in the current brass band scene (nu-brass or whatever the fuck they’re calling it). They’re not as shamelessly populist as Hot 8 Brass Band nor as second-line tradition based as Dirty Dozen Brass Band. And I can’t think of another troupe who’d have covered an entire Richard Youngs album so well it was my favourite record of 2021. Plus the influence of hip-hop is definitely stronger with HBE that most others I can think of. Either way, I’d never got to see them live before this show and was feeling pretty hyped.

And hell, they were good. A modest crowd on a cold Sunday night isn’t an auspicious setting for full-bore party set but HBE don’t fuck about – they clearly always bring it. A wall of brass with guitar/bass/drums barely visible behind on Cluny’s narrow stage is a strong look and they have SUCH a strong sound. Taking solos, swapping rhymes, goofing about, call-and-response and working the room and all that fun party, very hip-hop-based stuff. I could have done without the guitar solos (but that’s almost always the case) and the odd rockier moment, but for the most part Hypnotic Brass Ensemble were fantastic company on an unpromising January night. HYP-HYP-HYPNOTIC!


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