New Orleans’ Hot 8 Brass Band have been letting the good times roll for twenty years now, and on tonight’s evidence at a sweaty Garage they’re showing no sign of slowing down any time soon. The band released Vicennial: a collection of new material, new recordings of old favourites and a selection of their renowned re-workings of classic tracks to celebrate their double decade, and have been taking their splicing of traditional NOLA jazz, soul and hip hop on the road around the UK.
It’s a heady mix; the low thrum of the sousaphone shaking us up from the inside, blaring trumpets, sax and trombone spreading smiles across our faces and a separate bass and snare drummers moving our feet. There are few bands out there that can build a party atmosphere as complete as this and within the first few bars the crowd are moving in a tangle of limbs, waving our hands in the air like we just don’t care to ‘Rock With The Hot 8’, grooving to ‘Sexual Healing’ and attempting some fancy Latin footwork to ‘Bingo Bango’.
There’s an overwhelming feeling of togetherness, which is ramped up even further as the band close their set, leave the stage and make their way through the crowd with a storming take on New Orleans anthem ‘When The Saints Go Marching In’, the sousaphone like a giant periscope marking the band’s progress – there’s not a person in the room who isn’t singing, and even if we do sound somewhat like a cross between a football crowd and a school assembly, in our hearts and minds we’re shaking it down Frenchman Street.
Review and Photographs by Paul Maps