Snarky Puppy

 
     Live @ The Nexus Music Academy

 

Bill Laurance "Flint" Tour @ The Glee Club 

Snarky Puppy are one of the hottest bands of the moment. They have built an international fanbase, thanks largely to their incredible musicianship, infectious grooves, extensive touring schedule and total inclusion of technology with fans readily posting HD video recordings of live gigs. This not only documents their nightly fresh approach to each tune, it also charts their ever increasing cohesion as a band and what's even more incredible is their 'squad rotation policy' of a 35 man pool of musicians (except bass) along their grueling 9 month touring schedule.

 

Their visit to my hometown last November comprised of an afternoon workshop and evening performance making the total £20 door fee seem a snip. This was also a couple months before their world changed with a Grammy® Award for best R'n'B track with Lalah Hathaway 'Something'. The Award catapulted the band into the mainstream media spotlight and has allowed the band to have a support system in the form of booking agents and I hope more domestic business class flights around the US rather than the old skool band van.  

 

I was very much looking forward to seeing Brit keys member Bill Laurence with his 'Flint' project tour with fellow Snarky members Michael League on bass and Robert "Sput" Searight on Drums along with a String Quartet and French Horn of the Heritage Orchestra.         They certainly did not disappoint!

Short motifs of a classical, almost folk like quality were introduced that were enveloped in delicate chordal shifts with the added timbre of live strings and a French Horn made for incredibly rich and pleasing listening. There was also the added treat of some great solos from the cellist Ben Trigg and the 1st violinist Kit Massey.

 

From a bassist's standpoint Michael League had a Tri-Fecter attack of electric, double and synth bass. We were also treated to a solo on elecric guitar, which literally had my face in my hands in the sense of 'Is there anything he DOESN'T play?!' The electric bass was a beautiful French Canandian 5 string 'F' Bass with a P and J pickup configuration and a phat White Moog Synth, one which I hadn't come across before. 

His playing was of course exceptional with a particularly rhythmic electric bass solo . Michael brought the same intensity that he brings to every gig; whether with Snarky or one of his production projects, no matter which bass vessel he chose to use. Bass vessel? Yeah, I said it! Every note meant something, whether long sustained oscillating amplitude synth notes or fast flurrys in a solo. It's a quality that is not all too seldom applied - especially in the bass realm. I look in the mirror with that statement too.

 

This may be a more basscentric review considering I play the same instrument, but I will not overlook the fact that this was Bill's project and his playing was at times sublime. The Snarky Puppy influence could not be denied, but this was HIS gig and Bill certainly put his own stamp on proceedings. Not to forget "Sput", who may have been behind a perspex shield, but his incredible gospel based groove and jazz inflected polyrhythmic intricasies could not be held back by mere plexi glass. 

 

Above all, what really came across was the sheer joy the Snarky boys get from playing. For Bill especially, with this being his own project, the emotional investment was very apparent.

You could sense both the joy and relief at hearing his compositions that started as an idea, then to paper (or most likely Sibeilieus), recorded and finally being performed on a nightly basis. THEN to see the music grow and mature with each performance. There is nothing quite like it - that's the beauty of live performance. 

 

I hope more of the band release their solo projects while contributing to what is becoming a live performing phenomenon.  

© Wayne Matthews Music

© Wayne Matthews Music

© Wayne Matthews Music

Snarky Founder and Bassist/Composer Michael League with yours truly 

Snarky Puppy in full flow at the Nexus Music Academy

© Wayne Matthews Music

Michael League's rig for the night including a performance on guitar! 

Bill Laurance and Michael League getting down to business

© Wayne Matthews Music

For a full gallery of Snarky Puppy and Bill Laurance photos visit my Flikr page here:

 

https://www.flickr.com/photos/waynematthews7/sets/72157648462369247/