Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1084

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Congo Faith Healers: Hippodrome, London 4/11/12

Congo Faith Healers: Hippodrome, London 4/11/12
Congo Faith Healers: Hippodrome, London 4/11/12 Congo Faith Healers: Hippodrome, London 4/11/12 Congo Faith Healers: Hippodrome, London 4/11/12

Things are definitely hotting up at The new purpose built music theatre inside Leicester Square's Hippodrome casino. Manager Geoff Todd is broadening the club's horizons with the likes of Dionne Warwick, Tony Christie and Gywneth Herbert having graced the stage already. It seems it's all set to be a major West End venue and rightly so, the sound is fantastic and the atmosphere intimate for 180 capacity venue.

Tonight saw the very special Congo Faith Healers doing their thing and what a good thing it is! They have a very fresh sounding approach that mixes latin lounge, gypsy swing, pyschobilly and punk jazz all together, but with two key thing holding it together - passion and intent. Passion coming from this cohesive quartet and intent (intent to cause an aura overdose!) Coming from singer/guitarist Sonny West.

Sonny is your archetypal alpha male frontman, who leads from the front with his dynamic incisiveness and razor sharp guitar licks. There's a big heart at work here too which is just as well as this heady concoction, that links a lot of musical genres and shift gear dramatically but somehow manages to weld itself together especially on the manic "Voodoo Queen," with its crazy riffing which sound like it should be in an Emir Kusturica movie - but like a lot of their material on show tonight it's great material, fab songs no matter how they choose to dress them up and these boys like to dress up!

Sonny's Setzerish guitar style is underpinned admirably by the rock solid drumming of skin basher Jay Tubsman. Who got let off the leash once or twice to do some very sturdy drum solos indeed, and let's not forget the stoic Steve New on double bass. Adding tone, cinematic flavour and the coolest of melodies. Last but definitely not least, let's hear it for the lone trumpeting skills of Si 'Lips' Taylor - who is perfectly suited to the robustness of Sonny, obviously they're both cut from the same tear stained cloth! A conclusion quickly drawn from listening to their mesmerising first set. Clever and impressively eclectic, these big boys can come out to play on any stage and own it. A proper band that live & breath their trials and tribulations, no wallowing, no self doubt, just a tight grip on how to do things in this their comfortable arena. Magic and epic stuff!

PHOTOS: GEOFF TODD
Words Emrys Baird

From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

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