The Paris 1940s look just like another alternative-indie band, but looks are there to deceive. This Midlands-based five-piece unit completely reinvents well-known pop music fusing it with soul, jazz, swing, samba and even drum and bass. All five members of this very new band – they’ve been in existence for all of nine months – have been through music college jazz training.
This background means that they are a band of skillful musicians and talented arrangers. Their swingtime arrangement of Michael Jackson’s, The way you make me Feel, for example, blended ambitiously but seamlessly into the jazz standard Let there be Love. It was impressive, it worked well, and the audience loved it.
There were surprises right from the first number. Their jazz cover of Oasis’s Wonderwall was an eternity away from the original; it also gave the guitarist Joe Archer a chance to shine. Make luv (by Room 5 feat. Oliver Cheetham) was a soul/nu-jazz interpretation with high energy levels, with live looping of both saxophone and vocals, resulting in rich layering. Harry Lightfoot was brilliant at multitasking, swapping effortlessly back and forth from stonking saxophone solo to piano during the track.
The track American Boy (by American artist Kelis), enabled drummer Jim Bashford to have a moment of appreciation as did their cover of Calvin Harris’ I’m not Alone, in which Bashford and bassist Martyn Spencer were right on the money with the drum and bass undertones.
Perhaps the highlight was the very clever megamix of Lady Gaga hits, rewarded with a lengthy ovation. Again making very clever use of live vocal looping, they layered two of her hits on top of each other at one point, which had quite a few heads shaking in disbelief.
The encore, No Diggity by Blackstreet, originally an rnb hip hop track. It was a brilliant end to the evening. They successfully got the audience acting as backing singers which enabled the very enthusiastic, engaging vocalist Thom Kirkpatrick to showcase and win the crowd over completely with his lyrical, soulful, scatting improvisational skills. The number then climaxed with at least five key changes.
The Paris 1940’s are at an early stage, but have the energy to bring a bigger venue – maybe a club like 93 feet East – to life. They only played one of their own compositions, Primrose Hill, a pop/jazz/rock influenced song with a driving catchy bass line. The track starts quite minimally, but then in the second half builds up (again making clever use of looping of vocals) to an emotive, polyphonic climax.
This gig was the perfect antidote to glum January. It will be very interesting to see what the band comes up with on an EP (two originals and two covers), scheduled for release in April.
myspace.com/theparis1940s or facebook.com/theparis1940s