IT’S BEEN a frustrating time for London soul funk band Crowd Company. Their latest album, Lowdown, was released just prior to lockdown and although it was successfully launched at a sold out Pizza Express Live in London (Soho) in February 2020, the band were then knocked sideways (like all musicians) as a result of lockdown.
Yet the band, led from the front by the silky and intoxicating voice of Robert Fleming, is making up for lost time. At Pizza Express Live (Holborn) on Thursday (September 23), Crowd Company were on fine groovy form and showed why they have such a strong following: catchy and funky soul tunes, supported by wizardry on the keyboards (an amazing Claudio Corona) and moments of excellence on both trumpet and saxophone.
Although it is Fleming’s vocals that steal the show, he is more than ably supported by Esther Dee and Kay Elizabeth who are both given their moments in the limelight to shine vocally. And shine they do.
Understandably, the night is primarily about showcasing tracks from Lowdown. A New Direction, Now is the Time and Brooklyn Summer are among tracks all delivered with panache – a mellifluous Fleming on lead vocals.
Yet there is far more besides – Dee’s understated vocals on Saw You Yesterday (taken from 2017 album Stone & Sky) and Stories (a Lowdown track), a terrific version of Going Down Slowly (made famous by The Pointer Sisters), an upbeat Do You Know Me (infused with healthy doses of trumpet) and a rousing finale in Long Way From Home.
As well as Corona’s mastery of the keyboards (he could command his own show), Robin Lowrey (drums), Emil Engstrom (bass guitar) and Will Gibson (saxophone) all excel.
Crowd Company are a class act and guaranteed to please. The influence of American funk (The Meters in particular) runs through their music.
In short, Crowd Company deliver laid back music that will soon blow any troubles away. The album Lowdown is well worth investigating.