Live Review: Mama’s Gun @ Jazz Cafe, London (May 18th)

Last Tuesday saw funk-fusion outfit Mamas Gun return to the Jazz Café after their sold out show in February. They certainly commanded a sizeable crowd for a mid-week gig, suggesting that the band have succeeded in establishing themselves as a premier live act not to be missed. Early wake-up call for work- be damned!

Support came in the form of French artist Tété, whose doleful vocals-replete with heart-tugging yodel-floated over a sweet and soulful acoustic set. But it wasn’t a saccharine affair; Tété’s brand of bluesy-folk has enough edge to keep the audience sufficiently engaged. A lengthy pause followed the opening artist before frontman Andy Platts and the gang mounted… no, not mounted, more like exploded- onto stage with stand-out track ‘Wishing’ (from album Routes to Riches), its chugging bassline reverberating through the thoracic cavity as if urging our internal organs to groove along as well.

This Jazz Café crowd needed all the encouragement they could get, being a particularly reserved bunch. They appeared to save most of their energy for rapturous applause at the end of each number but, bar some notable exceptions, were quite reluctant to shake their culos during the actual songs. Not that this stopped Platts and the lads bringing the funk pretty hardcore at every given opportunity.

The bridge on ballad ‘You Are The Music’ suddenly took on a life of its own when the band added an extra a*se shaking-factor to the arrangement. They later demonstrated that current single ‘Finger On It’ is definitely one best savoured live; the energy of the studio version doesn’t come close to that replicated on stage. Handle-bar moustachioed bassist, Rex ‘The Professor’ Horan very nearly dominated the night’s proceedings, much like he does on Routes to Riches, as he seriously got down with his bad self. However, lead singer Andy has a hypnotic stage presence all of his own. His vocals were on optimum form as were the BVs provided by the rest of the band.

The audience might not have been all that keen to boogie but they were very zealous in singing along. Platts even jokingly threatened to leave them to it after they started the refrain of ‘Pots of Gold’ without him, the intro having barely been played. Yet, therein lies the beauty of Mamas Gun’s material; its instantly accessible quality, cleverly and masterfully executed.

Other highlights from Tuesday’s set included the gorgeous, Marvin-esque ‘Find A Way’ and the super-slick segue into ‘Big Betty’ that followed. In fact it’s pointless selecting choice moments from the gig when the whole thing was so enjoyable. Although the crowd’s reticence got things off to a slow-ish start, Andy and the fellows gathered momentum with each song eventually creating an ambiance so charged it could be its own source of alternative energy.

It was impossible not to dance (or should have been). Plus the band have a refreshing sense of fun, even pausing half way through ‘Bitch’ to pose in a freeze-frame tableau of rock-and-roll badass-ness for all those taking pictures. And what pretty photos they must have been; that the whole group was immaculately suited and booted must be mentioned at this juncture (Incidentally, keyboardist Dave Oliver took the retro couture idea the furthest, looking like a cross between Daryl Hall-sideburns et al- in the ‘I Can’t Go For That’ video and the Man from Del Monte).

For the encore, Mamas Gun wrapped it up with another album favourite ‘Never Be Right’ and the uber-Prince-like, ‘Super Sneakers’. There was one significant omission from Tuesday’s set list, the delicious ‘Rico’ – an oversight for which Platts and the gang should have been dragged from the stage and pounded. Still, it was such a good show they may be forgiven… Well, almost.

–Tola Ositelu

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