Wednesday, 14 August 2013

World Groove Orchestra - Music in the Square - Saturday 10 August 2013

Most bands in Beestons` annual `Music in the Square` season go on stage at 10.30, so I was surprised on arriving late to find WGO were still doing their soundcheck.

The band are a studious-looking bunch, probably more familiar with Penguin paperbacks than with the lifestyle of the late Johnny Thunders, but as they plinked, plonked, plugged and unplugged, I wondered if any of them had within them an inner rock star, seething with impatience and filled with an unquenchable desire to strike an impressive power chord and shout "Kick out the jams, brothers and sisters !" *

Apparently this was not the case, but eventually our grooving internationalists began their set and I have to say it was well worth the wait.

Starting with an impressive version of  `Summertime`, they moved on to an equally fine `Feeling Good` before changing tack altogether and performing an instrumental combining an anthemic keyboard part with fast, light drumming and percussion of a style that I believe is popular with the young folk at present.

You might think that this would be inaccessible to the average passer-by, but idle curiosity impelled me to watch peoples` reactions, and in fact it was this third tune that stopped the shoppers in their tracks and by my reckoning held the admiring attention of an audience ranging in age from under 5 to over 70.

Following on from this was a version of `Take Five`  which made effective use of Indian-style drumming, more instrumentals and, ending the first set, a cover of `Valerie`.

The second set was broadly similar except that the band displayed a penchant for covering familar songs (`I Got You, I Feel Good`  and `Johnnny B Goode`) in an unfamiliar fashion. This can be a high-risk strategy - a friend of mine once attempted something of the sort with a particular song only to have at least one member of his audience assume he didn`t know how to play it right ! However, it seemed to work OK for the WGO.

It`s not always wise to go in for too many comparisons, but I would say the singer reminded me at times of Hugh Laurie, particularly on the first two numbers. Many of the instrumentals reminded me of bands associated with Barbara Thompson and Jon Hiseman - whether they are in fact they are an influence on the WGO or it just happened that way is unknown to me.

In my personal opinion,  when bands attempt to combine disparate influences it`s usually a  waste of time and only rarely does it work particularly well. WGO, I`m happy to say, are the exception rather than the rule - they engage the head and the heart, set the toes tapping and what they might do to other parts of your anatomy one hardly likes to imagine !

Seriously, they are great, and if I wasn`t already married I would consider having a wedding just so that I could book them to play at the party. If you`re at all musically adventurous in your tastes, go and see them, you won`t regret it.

On the web ;

*A phrase once used by a member of  `60s band the MC5 if memory serves me right.

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