REVIEW: Thundercat melts everyone’s minds in Vicar Street

Thundercat, real name Stephen Bruner, has only recently started to surface as a mainstream artist in his own right. The 32 year old bassist has had a long and illustrious career as a session player and producer though, with a long list of collaborators including Flying Lotus, Kendrick Lamar, Kamasi Washington, Taylor McFerrin, Childish Gambino & Suicidal Tendencies. Lamar even described Thundercat as being the creative epicentre of his 2015 Grammy award winning album ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’.

His third album ‘Drunk’ was released earlier this month to critical acclaim and featured many high profile collaborations from the likes of Kenny Loggins, Michael McDonald, Kendrick Lamar, Wiz Khalifa, and Pharrell. The sold out crowd here tonight seem like a mix of die hard fans and curious friends brought along for the ride.

Supporting tonight are Fehdah featuring Loah who provide a beautiful start to the evening with their unique brand of Afro-Caribbean Neo-Soul. Single ‘Like No Other’ is a particular highlight, illuminating the the full creative range of their collective talents.

The band have so much groove together and the music is really interesting. Elements of Funk, Soul, Hip-Hop, R & B & Afrobeat are all mixed in with a healthy dose of clapping rhythms, tribal chants and carefully considered pop melodies. Be sure to check them out soon.

Next up is the main event and Thundercat strides on to the stage flanked by keyboardist Dennis Hamm and drummer Justin Brown to an erruption of screams and applause. The trio waste no time at all, kicking straight into ‘Rabbit Ho’. Brown’s energy seems unlimited, the rapid spitfire of his beats leaning in to Drum & Bass territory, he continues this trend throughout the set without even breaking a sweat. A wild, chaotic middle section falls effortlessly back in to the groove of the final verse.

It’s a small setup for a world tour but if you closed you eyes you wouldn’t believe there were only 3 musicians on stage. The group fills up every corner of the sonic spectrum. Thundercat’s high soulful voice juxtaposes perfectly with the beefy low end of his 6 string Ibanez bass.

In ‘Where The Giants Roam / Field of the Nephilim’, Thundercat adds in the type of mental fret dancing solos normally reserved for a song’s crescendo right in the middle, making you wonder how they can up the intensity later in the piece. The answer is, with ease. It’s a wonder to behold!

The onstage communication is subtle but effective, with seemingly unstoppable waves of music breaking at what would seem like random points save for a couple of winks and nods. As they blast into standout track ‘Them Changes’ the crowd go crazy and the show really hits it’s stride. Thundercat’s voice has an insane range and effectively emotes pain, joy, love & fear with equal perfection. In ‘Is It Love?’ he tells us ‘Everyday is like a dream to me’. Well thank you for sharing that feeling with us!

At the end of the show the impossible happened. AN ACTUAL SURPRISE ENCORE! The lights came on, background music too, people even left. The super fans old an new still shouting for ‘ONE MORE TUNE’ were rewarded with ‘The Turn Down’. Thundercat sings the opening verse asking ‘Is this where we belong?’. One thing’s for sure, Dublin certainly thinks so…

Icelandic songstress JFDR hits Dublin tomorrow night with support from Paddy Hanna & Dunny

One of Iceland’s most promising new artists will be hitting Dublin’s Sugar Club tomorrow night. 22 year old songstress Jófríður Ákadóttir is far from a new name on the Nordic island, having spent her teen fronting bands such as Pascal Pinon , Samaris and GANGLY. Björk even named her as one of her influences last year. This new venture is her first solo endevour under the moniker JFDR.

A few minutes into listening to JDFR it becomes apparent that all of this fanfare is well deserved. Her solo debut Brazil a haunting piece of work dominated by Jófríður’s beautifuly fragile voice. This gig promises to be a special night and a chance to catch JFDR on a small stage before she outgrows them completely, which will probably be very soon.

Support on the night comes from Paddy Hannah and Meltybrains? member Dunny. Tickets are €12.50 and are available from The Sugar Club website here.

Stream JFDR’s debut album Brazil below.

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REVIEW: Cory Henry and the Funk Apostles in The Sugar Club

The Sugar Club is packed to capacity as Cory Henry and his band take to the stage. The Snarky Puppy keyboardist needs no introduction and his fans have come out in droves to see what his solo side project has to offer.

From the moment the first song begins it’s clear that this will be a night to remember. Cory is a masterful bandleader, taking time to step out of the limelight. While the band members rip it up with extended solos, Cory struts around the stage egging each of them on. Shouting, instructing “Hit me on the one.” Bham! “Hit me on the two.”…Bham! “Hit me on the three”……Bham! “Take it back home.”

When it’s his time to shine, he goes into a trance like state. He stares straight ahead, not even glancing at the keys as he plays incredibly complicated improvisational pieces. “Was that alright?” Cory asks, “YEAAAAH!” we reply.

Funk is music that is innately fun. The audience and the performers share the thrill of taking risks, laughing when it doesn’t work and cheering when it does. If there was a single word to describe this show, that’d be it. FUN!  My highlight of the night was the dark, brooding, bass heavy cover of Prince’s “1999”, with it’s slow build eventually erupting into a massive crescendo. Incredible stuff.  Soulful backing singers, walking baselines, syncopated guitar and  insane drum groove. These guys had it all.

The shouts of “ONE MORE TUNE” threatened to bring the house down and they graced our ears with one more dose of musical medicine. Afterwards Cory stood by the exit meeting fans and thanking anyone who said hello. This is a man who truly appreciates his fans. I’d highly reccomend checking him out next itme he hits our shores.

A special mention to the band and their great hats!

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