Youngblood Brass Band – Thekla, Bristol

Saturday 8th September, 2018

2017’s target may have been 40, but I actually went to 51 gigs. The number I reached tonight. Gig going has become so habit forming and habitual that I felt quite lost through the summer.

Who wouldn’t want to see hip hop brass on a boat? I’d been looking forward to this gig for ages and was expecting it to be lively and loud with plenty of dancing. Spoiler: it was.

Thekla is so Bristol. Quirky, full of dead ends, you can’t quite get what you want (please can you start selling something non alcoholic at the bar that doesn’t contain caffeine?), awkward to get to, drives you nuts but you still love it. As they often have club nights after gigs they are early to start and finish, quite good for us oldies.

Support was from local band Imperial Leisure, who play at the Exchange later in the year, so catch them if you can. They were bouncy and fun and did a great job of warming up the crowd. So much so that one of Youngblood came out front to dance with us and another picked up his trombone and joined in. Ska in style I guess, funky bass and brass over guitar, keys and drums with dual vocals/rap they were an excellent choice of opener.

I got chatting with the couple next to me, who turn out to be the worlds biggest Turin Breaks fans, like attracts like I guess! Passionate music fans tend to find each other. They had seen Youngblood before and assured me I was in for a treat. They were not wrong. Before the first track had even finished I knew I was on to a winner with this random gig pick.

11 musicians were crammed onto Thekla’s stage. 3 drummers, 3 trombonists, 2 trumpeters, a euphonium player and a couple of sax’s adds up to a whole lot of brass. A wall of brass, joyous and celebratory, hit me and I loved it. They were awesome. They played from their back catalogue, which stretches back 20 years (gulp) and covers. Until you have heard Don’t Speak covered by brass you haven’t lived I tell you. That was all kinds of amazing. As was Umbrella (yep the Rhianna song) which had me dancing up a storm. You may well recognise Brooklyn if you hear it as just about every brass band in the wold has played it, but it is a Youngblood original. And I loved it.

The drummers anchored the brass into all sorts of brilliant rhythm patterns, holding ground and allowing the brass players at the front to show off and shine. Which they all did. Blimey. Those boys can half play. I did not know that a euphonium could be a funky instrument until tonight. Nor that it could play hip hop jazz.

There was a track towards the end that had a merengue or cuban rhythm to it that made my feet do something I couldn’t control. I felt as if I was 18 again, being taught to dance  salsa to Brazilian jazz in my kitchen by a sexy boy (oh those were the days). Or that I was wearing a pink and yellow feathered headdress dancing the samba on Strictly (look, a girl can dream). I shall ache all over tomorrow from all the dancing, but it was actually impossible to keep still. There is no way on earth you could see Youngblood Brass live and not move your body. None. Go see them live and take your dancing shoes. I implore you. Your life will be enriched for doing so.

It was joyous and fun, so much fun. I could not stop smiling. I’m still smiling now. I have seen hip hop brass on a boat and it was every bit as brilliant as you could wish.

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