Craig Charles’ Beats, Beer & Boogaloo: Camp & Furnace, Liverpool

By Shaun Ponsonby
Sun 02 July, 2017

A funk and soul all-dayer? Don’t mind if we do! Shaun Ponsonby checks out Craig Charles’ Beats, Beer & Boogaloo at Camp & Furnace.

This is a curious one.

Announced something close to last minute, Craig Charles brought his Trunk of Funk along to a Liverpool all-dayer for a soulful Sunday at Camp & Furnace.

As it was announced so last minute – on Glastonbury weekend, no less – it was understandably not as densely sold as Charles’ previous visits to the city have been, but that didn’t mean it lacked atmosphere.

We entered pretty early in the day at around 4pm, and were faced with something more laid back than we are used to at the Funk & Soul Club. Paisley Soul are an acoustic soul duo that probably wouldn’t work at one of Charles’ Saturday night gigs, but was pretty apt for a Sunday afternoon in the summer.

Although Uncle Frank (featuring Fun Lovin’ Criminals drummer Frank Benbini) took things up a notch with a greater variety of sounds – including a surprisingly heavy version of Prince’s Hot Thing – the crowd were still mainly hanging out at the back, chilling on the chairs and benches that had been installed.

It wasn’t until Renegade Brass Band took to the stage that people really started moving forward, but it’s easy to see why. Funky brass bands of their ilk are playing to bigger audiences at the moment, perhaps spearheaded by the success of the Hot 8 Brass Band. Liverpool has its own expert exponents of the form with The Blowback Horns. They played a blinder, despite playing underneath a large picture of Craig Charles where seemed to be looking down on them from above with a slightly judgy face.

With eight horns, two percussionists, a scratch DJ and an MC, it feels like Renegade push the concept further than most, and the crowd who suddenly rushed to the front of the stage lapped up every minute. As they were about to leave the stage, there were calls for one more song, and they happily obliged with a version of Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ Can’t Stop.

But Craig Charles was undoubtedly the hero of the day. It is easy to dismiss celebrity DJ’s, but Charles isn’t some guy who shows up and puts songs on from iTunes for a large fee. He takes this seriously and loves every minute of it.

He is probably one of the most enthusiastic DJ’s you will ever see, constantly singing and dancing to the tunes he drops. He is a performer as much as he is a DJ, and it’s infectious.  It is incredibly difficult to not get swept up in it.

Being a Sunday, he said he was going to play some different stuff, and dropped far more reggae than he usually would whether they were more obscure tunes like The Stiff Naked FoolsRocket Man or mass singalongs to Bob Marley’s Is This Love.

But he didn’t neglect The Funk. James Brown was present, as was Marvin Gaye. Soul was represented by Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes and Fontella Bass’ Rescue Me. Michael Jackson’s Burn This Disco Out ensured pop perfection. In short; Craig Charles is a BLAST.

The all-dayer concept – titled Beats, Beer & Boogaloo – is one that has legs, although some work might need to be done on it. Being in a dank old warehouse on such a beautiful afternoon may have put a few people off, and maybe a venue like Constellations would have worked better so the garden could be put to use in the daytime, with the indoor space ready for the evening. But, ultimately, Lister might be on to something here.

Pictures by Andy Sunley