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The New Mastersounds – Brooklyn Bowl – 2/22-25/13
UK soul-funk outfit The New Mastersounds graced Williamsburg's Brooklyn Bowl this past Friday and Saturday for three shows (one being an afternoon show for families with kids). After packing the house for all shows, it was announced that NMS would be returning on Monday for a bit of an impromptu performance that they announced during set break of Saturday's sold-out show. After a 2012 which saw a quiet touring year for the band despite the release of their lastest album Out On The Faultline in November, The New Mastersounds came out swinging in 2013. With a Winter tour that began with a run in Japan, and multi-night gigs in San Fran, New Orleans for Mardi Gras, Colorado, and New York, expect a big year from NMS.
It had been quite a while since the New Mastersounds had come to New York, so anticipation for the Brooklyn Bowl shows was through the roof. Friday nights show started out in fine fashion with "Take What You Need" from 2011′s Breaks From The Border which got the crowd going nice and early. Since the band began introducing their own vocals on Border, they have created even more interplay between themselves and the audience. Simple, but catchy lyrics like "Take what you need, it's yours and it's free, but save some for me, not that much to go around," lead to excellent opportunities for the crowd to sing-along and join in. It was clear early on that this was going to be a no nonsense funky time (well maybe just a little bit of nonsense, but all in good fun, right?); and was it ever!
One thing that was noticed immediately was the confidence that keyboardist/organist Joe Tatton came in with. He has truly found his place in this band since becoming a full-time member in 2008, and was seriously owning the organ. It's plain to see that while guitarist Eddie Roberts (who played L4LM's End of the Funking World Party at BB King's on Dec. 21st) is the leader of this band, he feeds off the energy of Tatton, Simon Allen (drums), and Pete Shand (bass). And with Tatton going off, Roberts would look over at Allen and Shand, smile, and just rip into his guitar. When NMS is hitting on all cylinders, it truly is a thing of beauty.
Since it was a four-show run, here are some of the highlights from each performance:
Friday Night - The aforementioned "Take What You Need" set the tone early on, while "Way Out West" saw Tatton take control and shine on his Rhodes. Early played songs "Each To Their Own" and "Summercamp" brought some space-disco funk to the table, with some heavy improvisation. Alecia Chakour, James Casey (Trey Anastasio Band), and Cochemea Gastelum (Dap Kings/20th Congress) made appearances during the second set, and brought their own unique talents to the evening's festivities. "Can You Get It" proved to the audience just why the New Mastersounds are "British Soul" while still being able to channel their idols The Meters and making a sounds that is very much their own. "Land of Nod" is so smooth, but has that space that lends this heaviness to it. It is one of the first songs that NMS came out with (2005′s This Is What We Do) that separated the band from the comparisons that have always followed them, as well as gave an indication of what would come in later years.
Saturday Afternoon – A special afternoon family set for parents that may have not been able to make the night sets due to having little ones saw a packed out Bowl. The venue was packed to the gills with tons of kids everywhere, wearing ear plugs and ear muffs, dancing at the front of the stage, and families enjoying food at the tables. It was a cool sight to see, that doesn't happen often enough. Simon Allen was very talkative with the kids and the crowd, mentioning the band's own children. The band seemed very excited at the opportunity to be playing for a new generation of New Mastersounds fans. Natalie Cressman (Trey Anastasio Band) made an appearance during the last song of the set. And as the band was leaving the stage, Simon said to his new miniature fans, "Remember kids, get a proper job."
Saturday Night – Given that both Friday and Saturday nights shows were sold out, the little pockets of dancing room that you could find on Friday were seemingly filled by more bodies on Saturday. Not that it was a problem, just worthy of some notation. "This Ain't Work" from 2006′s Be Yourself makes you feel like you are in an episode of the late-70′s shows What's Happening or Good Times. "All I Want" and "The Vandenburg Suite" were both had great placement in the first set, with their late-60′s soul and funk vibes. During set break, tour manager Bryan Dowling informed the crowd that a last-minute Monday night show had been added to the schedule, which had many fans jaws to the floor and phones come out of pockets and the texts to friends begin. The second set saw Chakour and Gastelum come out once again, but the real highlights from the second half of the show brought the energy of the band, the fans, and Brooklyn Bowl into an absolute fervor. Starting with "Hey Fela!" which just oozes funkiness, the band went into a well-placed "Each To Their Own" which played off "Fela" really well. This led to some serious ass shaking in the venue. Then a cover of The Sneaker Pimps "6 Underground" which appeared on Be Yourself saw smile upon smile from many faces in the crowd as they began to recognize the tune being played. Overall, Saturday night brought some serious heat to Brooklyn Bowl.
Monday Night – If there was a night for special guests, it was Monday night. One word to describe it? UNBELIEVABLE!!! Nigel Hall, Alecia Chakour, Cochemea Gastelum, James Casey, Natalie Cressman, Igmar Thomas, Bryan J (Pimps of Joytime), and Nickie Glaspie of Dumpstaphunk?!?!?! Are you serious? The place was half full, which meant dancing room for everyone, and there was a full horn section backing The New Mastersounds....absolutely ridiculous. Some of the songs that they were joined on stage for were "Gimme Some More", "Windjammer", with Chakour providing vocals on "All We Can Do" and "You", Bryan J lending his guitar skills on "Wrap It Up", and Glaspie taking over on drums for a few minutes. For those that were in attendance, it was a very special night and a great way to wrap up the tour and what has been a stellar start to 2013 for the New Mastersounds.
The New Mastersounds have just been announced as a headliner at this year's Purple Hatter Ball, which will take place from May 10-12 at Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, FL. Expect some more big news from NMS in coming weeks.
(Photos by Vernon Webb)
(Photos by Lenzlah Imaging)
(Title Photo by Lenzlah Imaging)
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