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Reviews / Review: intoxicating blend of funk grooves, jazz licks and soul nods

The Federation of the Disco Pimp lured just about every pair of legs to the dance floor - Photo: Chris Brown

When you hear a band telling you post-gig that their visit to Shetland is their most anticipated of the year, you know a good time was had – and then some.

Glasgow funk collective Federation of the Disco Pimp graced a sold-out and sweltering Lerwick Legion on Friday night after making their Shetland debut in the same venue last year.

It seems plans are already afoot for the hugely impressive septet to return to the isles in 2016 – but let’s not get too ahead of ourselves just yet.

The concert, organised by local DJ and independent promoter Lyall Halcrow, opened with fellow turntable man Brendan Hall on the decks.

His soul-flecked set provided a gentle warm-up before Shetland quartet The FB took things up into second gear.

Their assured, adroit set belied their youth – their collective years may not even reach Keith Richards’ age – and their cocktail of original tunes and covers was readily lapped up by a now hearty crowd.

Keyboard dynamo Lewis Hall rocked back and forth in synchronicity with the jazzy hues, while bassist Joanne Tait lent vocals to the mix.

While The FB may be newcomers on the local scene, following act Troppo Funk are relative veterans – despite their members only being a few years older.

They grabbed their predecessor’s smooth, jam tendencies and took it to the next level with a blitzkrieg of instrumental funk.

Head and shoulders above everyone else, guitarist Michael Berrich was on a high - Photo: ShetNews

While covers of the likes of the Brecker Brothers’ Some Skunk Funk amped up the high-jinx, high-energy kineticism, there was some grinding, groove-laden chops too, such as a rendition of Vulfpeck’s crawling Cars Too, which featured a cameo from local guitarist Thomas Jones.

With all four prodigious members – drummer Lewis Murray, bassist Hayden Hook, guitarist Joe Watt and keyboard/saxophone player Norman Willmore – now studying away from the isles, it was another rare moment to cherish this group’s at times brain-numbing talent and innate musicality.

Hard cheese then to the act following them, but it’s fair to say Federation of the Disco Pimp took on the challenge with serious aplomb.

Conducted by ringleader and keyboard player Marco Cafolla, the besuited seven-piece lured just about every pair of legs to the dancefloor with an intoxicating blend of funk grooves, jazz licks and soul nods.

They were up in the isles to promote their latest album Inamorata and the Glaswegians mined the record for the likes of I Love Tomorrow, which brought their brass section – featuring two saxophones and a trumpet – to the fore.

Tracks like Bruce Lee meanwhile, which dipped toes into disco, reaffirmed the group’s penchant for purveying perfect groove.

It wasn’t just about the music on the night, however. While Federation of the Disco Pimp brought the tunes, it was the locals that helped give the gig an uplifting, joyous vibe.

It was one of those rare nights where everything conjoined at the right moment in harmony; the punters forgot about their troubles and simply indulged in the perks of life.

Maybe it was the free-flowing booze, but you were hard pressed to find anyone without a smile slapped across their chops.

The night ended with guitarist Michael Berrich perched on the top of a reveller’s shoulders, lead trailing behind him, as the musician ploughed into a rousing solo.

Head and shoulders above everyone else, Berrich was on a high – and so were the hearts and minds of the hundreds in the Legion.

A year until the next Federation of the Disco Pimp gig? It remains to be seen if Shetland can wait that long for its next fix.

Chris Cope