Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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The Zapp Band: Under The Bridge, London 3/11/2018

Zapp1 Zapp2 Zapp3 Zapp4 Zapp6 Zapp7 Zapp8 Zapp9

Mothership funkateers, long before Daft Punk there was one anointed band Zapp, electro-funk pioneers who put the talk box into dance music and were catalysts for the 90's west coast hip-hop movement.

In 1979, Dayton Ohio born Troutman brothers: Roger, Larry, Terry & Lester found themselves to be in the unique position of being mentored by George Clinton and produced by Bootsy Collins, needless to say, their funk credentials remain unassailable. Fuelled by talents of late Roger Troutman's creativity, I'm pleased to say, Zapp's heritage lives on - fast forward nearly 40 years and I got to witness one of the best funk acts I've EVER seen in the opulent surroundings of the UTB venue below Chelsea football ground.

Simply, their show is slickness personified, as their simple mission is to entertain and please. They rattled off their volley of hits whilst swapping instruments, wheeling round talk box keys emblazoned in gold, dancing their asses off and generally creating smoke and mirrors mayhem whilst laying down the hardest, fattest funk you could find.

Driven by drummer Lester Troutman whose towering and heavy beats propel the band to greatness and the moog like bass which sounded fantastic through the club's excellent sound system, the carpet was well and truly laid!

Tonight, the highlights were many, in this electrically charged performance of skill and showmanship. The funk was ever present in cuts such as their first single "More Bounce To The Ounce" and the funkified cover of "Heard It Through The Grapevine". But "Dance Floor" was no doubt the crowd's fave...a killer track, sampled by 2Pac on "California Love" (which also got played later on) really hit the mark.

The slow jam section added some welcome relief too and showed their vocal dexterity to a T. "I Want To Be Your Man" & "Computer Love" cut the mustard and tracks from the new album such as "Shy" stood up well with their hit material.

This was a polished, highly choreographed performance which was booth tight and energetic. They even completed the circle quoting "Uptown Funk" - changing it too "Zapp Town Funk U Up, Zapp Town Funk U Up"!

An astonishing spectacle from a unique band whose revival can only stand them in good stead and also showing there's plenty more funk-infused fuel in the tank.

Tonight ladies & gentleman, you could say, we all got zapped!

Words Emrys Baird

From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

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