How often have you dreamt of a live show consisting of just the Arctic Monkeys’ first album, cover to cover? If your answer is like mine – nigh on every night – then ten-piece brass band, the Old Dirty Brasstards, have got your back. With four trumpets, three trombones, two percussionists, and a tuba, the Old Dirty Brasstards frequent The Blues Kitchen with their blues, swing, and jazz covers for Friday night party-goers looking for a night-club alternative. This was their first foray into a ticketed headline gig, and what a triumph it was.
The anticipation for the gig was built around a month in advance, when out of the blue (heh) Facebook targeted advertisements suggested the event. It was with good fortune that I chanced across the tickets before the release as they sold out within the hour, prompting the addition of three further London dates and even a trip up to Sheffield.
The disco ball-lit room dimmed and the band members sauntered on stage, instruments in hand, and immediately launched into ‘The View from the Afternoon’. The main melody was shared between the lead trumpet and trombone throughout the evening, with bass lines being picked up by the tuba and remaining trombones. Each track had an added twist imposed by the band, most notably a samba feel on ‘Dancing Shoes’. The atmosphere built through the set, as the audience danced, drank, and sang their way through the massive 2006 album.
The Old Dirty Brasstards gave an almost theatrical performance, with tight melodies and rhythms, and plenty of encouragement for audience participation. There was even a hand-painted sign that was held up for the “da-da, da-da-da” section after the second chorus of ‘Still Take You Home’. Much like all Arctic Monkey gigs I have been to, the crowd came alive for the instrumental bars after “He’s a scumbag, don’t you know!” in ‘When the Sun Goes Down’ and sang their hearts out to ‘Mardy Bum’. That being said, I have never before been to a gig where there are chants of “ tuba! tuba! tuba! ”…
My only slight criticism is that with no frontman to lead the crowd through Alex Turner’s carefully crafted lyrics, the audience’s singing left a lot to be desired, which sometimes seemed to put off the band, particularly during ‘You Probably Couldn’t See for the Lights But You Were Staring Straight at Me’. Personally, I believe the occasional messy verse and tempo differences added to the whole experience; the iconic nature of the album and the brass band lends itself to a mass crowd singalong, even if, to some amusement, the verses are muddled or people come in too early.
The highlight of the night must be the unexpected encore, where we were treated to three more Arctic Monkeys songs; ‘R U Mine?’, ‘Fluorescent Adolescent’ and ‘Brianstorm’. There is no doubt that every member is an incredible musician with a love for Arctic Monkeys; one trombone player even wore Tranquillity Base merch! I don’t think this is the last we will hear of the Old Dirty Brasstards – I cannot recommend them highly enough. If they add more dates or expand their repertoire to Favourite Worst Nightmare , I’ll certainly be the first one there.