We saw The Hot 8 Brass Band at Lemonfest in Newton Abbot last year but being a festival, we only stuck around for a couple of tracks before being whisked away to cover another stage. We heard that they were going to be playing again at The Phoenix in Exeter and this time, we wanted to make sure that we were there to cover the entire show!
There’s 8 of them, they’re a brass band and man, are they hot!
Watching the Hot 8 Brass Band last night at the Phoenix in Exeter was more than just an enjoyable night out, it was an experience… This morning I woke with, what I can only describe as a music hangover - I had only one Corona, so it obviously wasn’t the booze – my head is throbbing, my bones ache and a fry up was the only cure. The bands rhythmic sounds and unrelenting zeal was electric and I haven’t danced like that for many a year! My feet just wouldn’t stay still, even as I was trying to take notes, my body jiggled like a toddler after chocolate… And I wasn’t alone, the whole place was moving, you couldn’t help yourself!
This is a big band… Not just due to the large number of members, but the mere size of some of the guys, I’d hate to see the rider bill for the tour! But if that’s what’s needed to produce some of the finest music I have heard coming from that stage, then bring on the cake, I say!
The band, formed 20 years ago in New Orleans and have had their own personal tragedies during their career. There have been 16 musicians involved, past and present, they have lost members due to illness and street violence, but the music stays as strong and energetic as ever. Their blend of the traditional New Orleans brass sounds, hip-hop, jazz and funk are usually found in the clubs of New Orleans, so to hear them play here is a privilege.
They started the show with a 20 minute long track that invited us, the audience to ‘Yippee yo, yippee ya’ and I Yippee-ed and yo-ed along, how could I not? When I was invited to ‘Shake it to the left, shake it to the right and shake it to the one you like’, my hips couldn’t help but jiggle towards the hot, Marvin Gaye look-a-like on the saxophone. While the drummer at the front of the stage, flashing his gold grill, called for the audience to work their bodies and that’s exactly what we did…
It wasn’t too long into the gig that I forgot what I was there for and found myself just getting excited by what I was seeing and listening to, so there maybe gaps in this review, due to pure enjoyment and that’s probably the best compliment I can give.
The guys used tracks like James Brown’s “Get on up”, The Specials’ “Ghost Town” and The Temptations’ “Papa Was a Rolling Stone”, to create their own distinctive style, and I grinded and sweated along with the band, enjoying every moment.
Towards the end of the evening, some lucky bastard was treated to a rendition of Happy Birthday. But with a New Orleans twang, this was, by far, the best version I have ever heard… Now, I’m afraid, when it gets sung to me in September it will sound like a bag of crap in comparison.
The guys ended the show with a song that got us all twisting to the ground and singing along. Then, with a peace and love sign, the boys were off and I was left with ringing ears and a memory never to be forgotten.
To be honest this whole review could have been summed up in just two words, the second word being ‘amazing’ and the other not so polite!
Review by Charlotte Cooper
Photography by Rhodri Cooper (to see the entire image gallery from the show, please click HERE)