Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1099

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Larry Graham & The Graham Central Station + The Fantastics!: Clapham Grand 10/10/12

Larry Graham & The Graham Central Station: Clapham Grand 10/10/12
Larry Graham & The Graham Central Station: Clapham Grand 10/10/12 Larry Graham & The Graham Central Station: Clapham Grand 10/10/12 Larry Graham & The Graham Central Station: Clapham Grand 10/10/12 Sulene Fleming in action leading The Fantastics!: Clapham Grand 10/10/12

Here he is at 66 years old slapping the bass like it owes him money! Yes Mr thunder thumbs is back in town and ready to get down! However let's just pay some props to the opening act the Fantastics! before I wax lyrical! They sweetly warmed up the incoming crowd nicely with their brand of latin dance and hot jazz funk.

The ever perky sax player Mark Norton was in fine form darting musically and physically around the place dressed in his best pimp shirt, energetically honking at us and skipping round the stage like a demented game show host-wonderful stuff! After some tough workouts it was time to bring the big guns in, in the shape of the delectable Ms Sulene Fleming, a micro diva with a mighty big voice and dressed rather fetchingly in a short gold dress. Even though the PA was deliberately low you could feel her and the band's vibes and get the gist of their magisterial sound. A class act in anyone's book!

So the sound, errr well, it was a pig's breakfast when Graham's band came on with a funk-rock fanfare to introduce the main man. The loudest thing was the flabby bass drum. Fortunately the sheer power of LG's bass hit you in the face and softened the poor mix, it took sometime to fix it though........but fix it they did after about 20 mins.

There seemed to be a fair amount of fast four to the floor stuff too and I don't think it really got going till "Raise Up," the killer new title track on Graham's latest album, caught my attention with it's chanting urgency and the sense that now everything was in place for a full on party. Likewise "I Believe In You" caught the audience's imagination and all the guys were soon shouting Larry! Larry! Larry! Football stylee.

Everything was cushty until Larry dropped a clanger by covering a Maroon 5 song! "Moves Like Jagger" is pretty dire anyway, no matter what you do with it. You could see people's mouths drop and silent groans of incredulity were felt when he picked that turkey - Jeez!

Perhaps sensing that it hadn't gone down well with his British audience, Larry raised his game and went into 'funk overdrive' with his party piece - Larry does Hendrix! A furious onslaught of wah-funk fabness emanated from his long fingers as Larry tried to appease the gods with this virtuosic display. He doesn't just play....he FEELS it....and WE felt it too!!! Holy funk! Damn that's what I'm talking about!

Anyone who thinks the only good dance music comes from computers is clearly in need of a slap from Mr Graham's bass. Larry is 100% funk and no one does it like the master. Now with the equilibrium restored, it was time for the Sly stuff and boy did the crowd go radio rental! "Dance To The Music" sounded superb with Graham's voice going from grit to gravy in the same bar â¦And the jam session where he brings on guest musicians plucked randomly from the audience is an absolute crowd winner. The funk pounding continued dropping the bombs everywhere and Larry was going to go the full 15 rounds on this one despite that patchy beginning, (that to be fair wasn't his fault). A true fighter and a champ none the less.

No one does it like this guy, he instills a sense of brotherhood and the desire to put your arm around whoever is next to me while he's playing. Check out his new album "Raise Up," he's still pumping it good and hard fuelling the flames of funk, like he knows he should! Bravo Brother Graham, you lifted us all up.

Amen on that and Hallelujah!

Words Emrys Baird

From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

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