WHAT a joy to watch a relatively new band enjoying themselves under the watchful eye of one of Scotland’s funk legends.
That is exactly what happened on Monday night at Pizza Express Live (Holborn) when The Tomorrow Band put together a thrilling set comprising an intoxicating mix of saxophones, booming guitars and super backing vocals.
First, as an eleven piece band (quite electric and exhilarating in their own right) and then in the second set joined by ex Average White Band frontman Hamish Stuart. Up a notch or three in gears the music went.
Young meets old. Young thrive on the back of a master. The audience rejoices in admiration (at how good The Tomorrow Band are) and adulation over the ageless Stuart who still makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up as he delivers a delicate A Love Of Your Own and an upbeat Let’s Go Around Again – a song that provoked some members of an otherwise impeccably behaved audience to dance around in ever decreasing circles. What fun. A perfect antidote to Omicron misery.
The Tomorrow Band, drawn from a number of established Scottish bands, seemed to thoroughly enjoy the fact that they were playing live. Playing songs from their debut album Inside/Outside – the likes of Time At Last, Flipside, Get On It and Popcorn – they demonstrated the breadth of their talents. Stuart’s influence on their music – he produced the album – is obvious from the start. Close your eyes and you could think you were listening to the Average White Band. A potent mix of funk and soul.
Issac Sutherland and Lyle Watt took turns to show their mastery of the guitar (sometimes it seemed like a competition as to who could outperform the other) while Konrad Wiszniewski (Scottish National Jazz Orchestra) demonstrated that he is a formidable player of the alto saxophone.
Alongside him, Johnny White thrilled on tenor saxophone, Eddie Miller provided the vocals, while Lorna Thomas quietly infused proceedings with her unerring bass guitar. All orchestrated and overseen with great competence by Barry Gordon. Drums and percussion were played with gusto by Scott Jamieson and Fraser Heeps respectively.
Outstanding as the first set was, Stuart’s introduction into the mix lifted proceedings up a notch – the band thriving off Stuart and vice versa. Person To Person and Midnight Rush were followed by Whatcha Gonna Do For Me (sublime alto sax provided by Wiszniewski whose solo went on .. and on). More please.
Yet these mighty songs were punched out of the ring by Stuart’s tribute to Muhammad Ali (How The Mighty Fall). Watt and Sutherland took turns to thrillingly outsmart each other on their respective guitars. Sheer ecstasy.
With the upbeat Let’s Go Round Again proving a fitting finale, the only disappointment was that the show had to end.
A super night’s entertainment. New band meets a legend. Result: sublime live music. You can’t beat it.