Taking a trip to New Orleans, albeit via Manchester, Owen Mullen finds a pure love of music at Gorilla.
It is always a thrill to see a band genuinely having the time of their life on stage. That enjoyment is infectious, and it reminds us why we love music.
The moment Troy ‘Trombone Shorty’ Andrews appeared with his trombone held aloft and a huge smile on his face, you could tell this was going to be a good night. Spirits in the venue were already high from the moment you stepped through the doors, thanks to Manchester DJ Agent J (Groovement), who perfectly culminated his set with the Hot 8 Brass Band’s version of Sexual Healing.
The seven piece band greeted the already cheering crowd with a surprisingly heavy riff-led jam, immediately showcasing the outstanding talent of the collective and setting the tone for the rest of the show. Shredding guitar solos, bass solos from Mike Bass-Baily, whom Shorty announced he has been playing music with since they were ten years old.
It felt like every solo from each band member received spontaneous applause, especially from the frankly awesome horn section, who genuinely dropped jaws several times during the night.
For a band straight out of New Orleans, it’s striking that they manage to capture traditional Orleans jazz and add a fresh element to it. Shorty very much has his own sound, despite nods to the past. And he isn’t just a master of his instrument. He possesses a soulful voice and unrivaled charisma that could barely be contained on stage.
The set was pretty jam-heavy at times, but managed to fuse genres impeccably, from jazz, funk and soul, to rock and even metal influences being displayed throughout, all delivered with such charisma and enthusiasm that it was impossible not to get caught up in the sheer love of music shared by band and audience.
It felt like a party. An expertly delivered vamp through James Brown classics, and nods to Kool & The Gang and The Jacksons helped.
But the band, dubbed Orleans Avenue, were probably the biggest part in creating this atmosphere.
They feature two sax players; BK Jackson and Dan Oestreicher. During one breakdown, Jackson – the younger of the two – started dancing centre stage. His moves were nimble and smooth. He and Shorty then looked over to Oestreicher, an older looking white guy, who mimicked Jackson to thunderous applause. And when he grabbed Shorty’s microphone to rap Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ Give It Away, we went absolutely wild.
Moments like this made the night just as much about Orleans Avenue as it was about Trombone Shorty, which brought to mind the kind of band chemistry you’d expect to see in Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band.
Although the jamming was the highlight, it meant the set was probably a bit light on the more accessible tracks. We could have used more material from the excellent new album Parking Lot Symphony. Bizarrely only the instrumental Tripped Out Slim, Where It At? and the cover of Ernie K. Doe’s Here Come The Girls were present, and it made us wish for It Ain’t No Use or Dirty Water.
That said, the pure love of music that we felt from both band and audience made it feel like a one-off event, even if they play the same set every night. Maybe they could shake larger venues to their core, but the intimacy of Gorilla was the perfect place to witness them.
Image: artist’s Facebook page.