Live reviews

Snarky Puppy at the Royal Albert Hall

Snarky Puppy (Royal Albert Hall. 14 November 2019. Review by Lauren Bush) The “Brooklyn-Based jazz funk fusion collective” Snarky Puppy have developed an unwavering mass of fans young and old. As the 12-piece band poured onto the stage on Thursday night, this 5,000 strong fan base whooped and hollered excitedly.  As the room sat in darkness, a solo guitar started with a beautifully simple mournful melody, soon joined one-by-one by the rest of the band. Before long, an epic feast for the senses had built up. Each composition moved through this mellow simplicity to raucous cacophony again and again, and though it seemed formulaic at times, each groove was different and each soloist brought something new to the music. 

Snarky Puppy. (Photo courtesy of Royal Albert Hall)

These guys have mastered the art of the “show” – a true stadium style gig with the spectacle and atmosphere of a rock concert, but the discerning ears of a jazz crowd. Each musician has at least one piece where their solo is a feature. Mike Maher played some particularly inventive and lyrical solos on trumpet and flugelhorn. Individually, the band are geniuses on their own instruments, but they also embrace effects, especially in the keyboards, featuring many different synthesizers and a Talk Box, on which Shaun Martin had the crowd completely and totally hooked on Sleeper. Rather than headbanging and crowd surfing, this serious audience was entrusted with an exercise of clapping a 3-over-4 syncopated rhythm while the band played a song called Xavi from their newest album Immigrance.  This gig was a special one as it was being recorded as a live album. Leader and bassist Michael League announced near the end that there was a “Silver Bullet” parked round the back of the concert hall that had been mixing and producing the music in real time and that guests could queue up and receive the first digital mix of the gig 15 minutes after the show ended.  All in all, Snarky Puppy never seem to disappoint. They have contributed a lot to the way jazz has changed and grown in the last 10 years and they keep coming up with new and innovative ideas to add to their appeal.

Snarky Puppy. (Photo courtesy of Royal Albert Hall)

2 replies »

  1. I was at the gig and it was brilliant, thanks for the review, very accurate. Worth mentioning also that the band hung out at door 3 for over an hour to give fans a chance to meet them which I did, an amazingly humble group who give their fans everything. Also worth mentioning how powerful the band’s back catalogue is and yet Michael League’s vision of progressing the band means that most of their tracks are new, with minimal focus on the tracks they are worshiped for. A group with character and vision.

  2. My first foray into the realms of SP-Live. A great gig with some majestic themes coming through. I liked the 2x Tenor saxes + 2x Trumpets line up. Is this the nearest that jazz-influenced music comes to meeting Prog Rock? The audience lapped it up!

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