LIVESTREAM REVIEW: Wandering Monster @ The Globe, Newcastle (07.02.21) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Streaming through a two-camera set up, what The Globe’s live events get right is their ability to make you feel close to the stage.

Sometimes, like tonight’s show from Yorkshire jazz rock band Wandering Monster, being close to the stage and watching the musicianship coming from it plays an important ingredient in the appreciation of what is being created. Pop music with recorded backing tracks don’t require astute observation, but this isn’t pop music, this is four principal musicians working collectively as part of a well-rehearsed group structure, producing output greater than the sum of their inputs. If that sounds mathematical and more in tune with elements from the sciences than the arts, then in a way, it is. That’s what great jazz is, it’s complex rhythms and patterns played perfectly and made to look easy. Those with attuned ears may be able to hear that, but I can’t, I need to see that. I needed, tonight, to feel close to the stage.

I’d love to single out a player/Monster, or two, from the collection, but each member plays a critical part. At times, Ben Powling’s sax solos steal the show. In other moments the electrified guitar of Calvin Travers gutters out guitar patterns which you can’t tell are lead, or rhythm, or both at the same time. All players are truly competent; weaving into and out of the mix – soloing then rooting themselves – steadily changing their volumes to move the dynamic of each of the looped structures; there’s change within the consistent.

Playing for just under an hour, and debuting a couple of new pieces, Wandering Monster leave you wanting more and make you wonder how only four players made that sound. I perhaps wouldn’t have felt that if I’d been further away from the stage.

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