One can imagine fewer more natural settings than The 100 Club for Tankus the Henge. This tirelessly touring band have earned a cult following for the energy and showmanship of their live performances. The intimate no-nonsense surroundings are ideal for a group that feeds so much from the reaction of their audience and tonight is a special occasion marking the release of new album I Crave Affection Baby, But Not When I Drive.
Assembling on stage following a bombastic blast of classical music they begin, fittingly, with the album’s riff-heavy opener ‘Electric Eyes’. What follows lives up to the hype. The rhythm section grooves, the guitar wails, the sax & trombone sizzle, the backing vocals float gorgeous harmonies.
At the centre of this, frontman and chief songwriter Jaz Delorean holds us in the palm of his hands. He has charisma in spades and the talent to match. Mainly he stands, mildly-rasping voice belting out as his seemingly independent right hand negotiates the keys. At other points the piano teeters precariously, his grinning face maniacal as he two-handedly hammers flawless jazz lines into the ivories. Later he’ll be atop the piano itself, a tightrope walker yelling “somebody scream!” He starts the show dapperly besuited in white two piece, red shirt and beads; and ends it, traditionally for a Tankus show, bare-chested.
This intensity sustains throughout the show, the band appear to be having as much fun as the audience. The playing is loose without being shambolic. The atmosphere is inclusive and never pretentious, despite the virtuosity on display. The band veer wildly through musical genres, sometimes within the space of one song. Highlights include the gypsy ska of ‘Weather’, the McCartneyesque psychedelia of ‘Smiling Makes The Day Go Quicker’ and jazz swing odyssey ‘Last Night In New Orleans’ (complete with sax & trumpet reinforcements). The set closes with a triumphant ‘You Can Do Anything’, naturally complete with audience singalong to a chorus as infectious as Chas n Dave’s finest. Rapturous applause and whooping follows as the appreciative crowd anticipates the encore.
Returning to the stage, a slow building jazz cacophony is conjured before launching into ‘The Only Thing That Passes Here Is Time’. A voice and piano number from Jaz’s solo EP A Slingshot Of Stars, here it is transformed into a joyous, freewheeling, big band southern jazz epic. The night ends with a reprise of ‘You Can Do Anything’ (singalong included) and the die-hard fans leave satisfied, no doubt joined by more than a few new converts.
Perhaps inevitably, their recorded output never quite lives up to the intensity of their live shows. The studio provides a little too much polish and not quite enough room for improvisation. But whatever you think of the music, this is a band that should be seen live. Even the hardest heart or most snobbish of musos will be hard pressed to resist The Henge in full throttle.
Review and photography by Jim Collett
Check out Tankus The Henge’s recent appearance on The Joyzine Radio Show here.