REVIEW: 5th Annual End of Prohibition Party – The Cluny, Newcastle (16.10.15) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Gadzooks! What a boon, this night was spiffing from start to end and no mistake.  Decked out in my fedora and sharp suit (or as close as I can get) I felt a little bit like Vito Corleone finding his way in 1920s New York, although I’m a bit closer to Luca Brasi.  As I entered the Cluny speakeasy I was happy to see that every bearcat, bimbo and sheba was looking hotsy-totsy, in full prohibition ending garb.  We might not have had prohibition here, but that didn’t stop us getting our jig on and making sure we were half-seas over!

The first band up was The Crossings Band, which, unbelievably, is a community run charity group.  I say ‘unbelievably’ because they are extremely good.  The idea is that anybody can join, and participate in writing music, playing or helping in any way they like regardless of their ability.  The results are joyous, and the band consisting of the standard bass, drums, guitar and keyboard, joined by the less standard percussion, trumpet, trombone, finger harp, violin and most beautifully made-up singer (she really did look the part, and sound it).  Led by the Backyard Rhythm Orchestra’s main man on the ‘bone, this funky, jazzy, worldy party was a great way to open proceedings.

Next up were a band whose name brought with it certain claims, and as the Bad Ass Brass Band assembled onstage half of it was met before a note was played.  Sporting a sousaphone, bari sax, tenor/alto sax, trombone and three trumpets alongside the drummer, brass was definitely accurate, but what about the bad ass part?  Well, I think to call them badass would be a disservice, they were incredible! As a trombone player myself, and with at least two others in attendance, bandleader Jon Stokes was under intense scrutiny, but blimey, he blew me away!  That said, he wasn’t the only one.  Each trumpeter seemed hell bent on out-stratosphering the other, with some searingly high notes blasting out.  Any brass player will tell you that is hard, but these guys were making it look easy.  Playing funk and Balkan beats, with a bit of ska thrown in for good measure they had the joint jumpin’, not a bluenose in the house.  They ended by rather self-depricatingly announcing that the main event would be onstage shortly; wrong, tonight everyone was the main event.

So, after much anticipation, Hannabiell and Midnight Blue smacked the stage in their own super-dynamic way.  The twin drums of Hannabiell and Yilis providing the foundation for the un-genre-able powerhouse that they are.  Blistering sax, Tyler the bass trombone, some hyper drumming and Mike Wright absolutely shredding the electric guitar, he was on fire!  I don’t think it’s possible that anybody in Newcastle, or the surrounding 50 miles, has not seen this super supergroup, but if you have somehow missed them, they are a high-power, high-pace, high-skill rollercoaster ride of a band with one of the most energetic people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting leading the way. Hannabiell’s enthusiasm radiates through the talented band and into the crowd.  This was only intensified when the Bad Ass Brass band joined them onstage for the encore, phew, it was a scorcher!

Slightly ossified, I made my way home grinning from ear to ear and looking forward to the sixth annual prohibition party…

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