Hosted at KOKO, the venue’s atmosphere was perpendicular to that of the typical Friday night. An empty smoking area and non-sticky floors paid tribute to the multi-layered theater environment as an ideal place to host a gig (though drinks prices were unfortunately the same as any regular Saturday, without the bulk deals.)
The support act XamVolo set the scene with an ambient bass-filled set, mixed with groove and soul, with very clear influence from artists such as Anderson .Paak and Shaun Martin. Their sound was filled out by backing tracks recreating the heavily mixed, sub-octave tracks in a live performance. The set closed with ‘Old Soul’, a song which has a lot more kick to it when performed live. These guys are definitely worth a listen.
During the interlude, the iconic Hammond organ and Leslie speaker were set up right in the middle before Cory and his funk apostles took to the stage.
Cory, as usual, impressed us all with fantastic solos, trading bars seamlessly throughout most songs. The star of the band, however, was Nick Semrad, the keys player set up stage left. He pulled out beautiful ambient keys patches and rhythmic synth lines in every song. Unfortunately he wasn’t given his time to shine ‘til near the end of the gig. When his moment in the spotlight came, Cory queued him in for a solo, he began gliding up and down his synth, and the crowd went wild. In my controversial opinion he was more impressive than Cory himself (ed: hate to firstname.lastname@example.org). Look out for his name in future gigs - you don’t want to miss those chops or the fantastic face he pulls during a pitch bend. The most tight song from the night was a cover of ‘Stayin’ Alive’ by the Bee Gees. They took laid-back tune and gave it 10 tonnes of punch. The rhythm section, Taron Lockett and Sharay Reed, locked into the pocket, providing the backbone of the groove for keys and guitarist Adam Agati to dance around. Cory, as usual, threw a lot of heavy organ sounds and has the voice to match. Looking at some of his earlier live performances, he has not usually been one to take the stage with his vocals, but the man has quite obviously been practising, and the work has definitely paid off.
Overall, the gig was exactly what you’d expect from a bandleader with Snarky Puppy on his resume: a metric shit-ton of funk laid down by some of the greatest musicians working today. Look out for him next time he’s around London.