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Issue 1084

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Craig Charles' Fantasy Funk Band: Spiegeltent, Bristol 12/12/12

Craig Charles' Fantasy Funk Band: Spiegeltent, Bristol 12/12/12
Craig Charles' Fantasy Funk Band: Spiegeltent, Bristol 12/12/12 John Turrell and Ria Currie (Craig Charles' Fantasy Funk Band): Spiegeltent, Bristol 12/12/12 John Turrell, Ria Currie and Snowboy - Craig Charles' Fantasy Funk Band: Bristol 12/12/12 John Turrell and Snowboy (Craig Charles' Fantasy Funk Band): Spiegeltent, Bristol 12/12/12 The Haggis Horns, Mike Bandoni and Ernie McKone - Fantasy Funk Band: Spiegeltent, Bristol 12/12/12 Mike Bandoni (Drums) & Ernie Mckone (Bass) - Fantasy Funk Band: Bristol 12/12/12 Mick Talbot - Craig Charles' Fantasy Funk Band: Spiegeltent, Bristol 12/12/12 Leigh Gracie - Craig Charles' Fantasy Funk Band: Spiegeltent, Bristol 12/12/12 Hello Bristol! Fans watch Craig Charles' Fantasy Funk Band: Bristol 12/12/12

Talk about a funk bomb waiting to go off! This was a highly anticipated gig in the cosy atmosphere of the 'Christmasy' speigeltent, which fitted the occasion beautifully. Craig Charles (with the help of his listeners) has assembled a crack ace band, which were like a dry powder keg waiting to go off! And the up-for-it Bristol folk sensed a great night ahead of them ...and to cut a long story short, Craig and co did not disappoint - the age of the supergroup is back!

First up, the warm up, the instrumental "It Ain't Fair But It's Fun" got proceedings off to an initial high octane level right from the off. A stone cold solid funk 45 (originally recorded by the errrr, Fabulous Originals) complete with blaring horns and organ, a furious backbeat, a stomping conga groove and the sweetest flute ramblings - courtesy of Haggis hombre Atholl Ransome - What a fella! (Excuse the pun!)

Next up, the stonking soul/funk blessedness of the old Eddie Bo classic "Lover & A Friend." The perfect vehicle for the throaty thrashings of soul singer John Turrell, resplendent in country jacket and silk scarf, looking every bit the frontman on his best mettle - as was his lovely cohort Ria Currie (tall elegant and talented!) took on duet duties on this Speedometer evergreen. Just goes to show you don't need any stupid, modern vocal effects or noises... Just a funky blues progression, a fat drum-break and some sweet ole soul singin'! This was a good pairing, the two have a special chemistry which is fun to watch, making Craig's band a REALLY worthwhile 100% dynamite done-deal package!

So what's in the package? Well only the top of the topper-most MD Ernie Mckone on bass, an incredibly gifted musician with flare and bags of fluid style. The Haggis Horns (say no more!). Snowboy (percussion) spreading his heavy latin blueprint everywhere, multi-tasking playing conga and tambourine at the same time! The man I call the beat brigadier Mike Bandoni on drums, underpinning everything with his magic and propulsive playing. Newcomer, Leigh Gracie on guitar, plus Mick Talbot (keys) complete the star-studded line-up.

It's great to see a band educating folk on the wonders of proper music in an age where music has become so commercialised, so generic, that it no longer has any heartfelt message meaning or substance. Craig and the bands' love of this music has stood the test of time because it's palpably obvious that people can really connect with it. The bristol crowd lapped it up and went mental when they recognised the odd song such as "Money" and "Express Yourself." However the band are savvy enough not to fill the set with obvious crowd pleasers and must be applauded for playing rarer material too.

Chuck Garbo's "Can I Be Your Squeeze" being a point in question, a nagging one chord funk-grinder which gets right under your skin (and feet!). With John and Ria cementing their partnership majestically on this mad ass b-boy-break beauty. This set up the finale perfectly, the denouement Curtis's "Move On Up," where Turrell soared with the eagles - a towering vocal display to silence all! I could hear his gruff guttural cries far over the Avon as I made a mad dash to get my last train back to London. A top night was had by all, making fantasy a reality, Craig and co really let blow!

PHOTOS: EMRYS BAIRD
Words Emrys Baird

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