Last week I took a day off work and went to London on the train. I met up with my great pal and bandmate, Richard. We had come to see Tribal Tech play at Ronnie Scott’s club.
Tribal Tech are a band who play, as they describe it, progressive fusion. That’s to say it’s somewhere between jazz, rock, funk and blues, although it doesn’t sound like any of those genres. The music is full of emotion, virtuosity and fun. Despite this, and despite finding myself belonging to a large group of online fans, I’ve only one offline friend who knows the band. Goodness knows I’ve made enough people listen to them, but never with positive results.
So, the two of us made it to Frith Street, had a few beers and put certain, music related sections of the world to rights.
Ronnie Scott’s is a place I’ve been visiting for a long time now. When I first went the food was bad and the place stunk of smoke or had a typical jazz club atmosphere, depending on how you look at these things. In 2013 it retains the intimate staging but let’s you enjoy seriously good food in a clean, air-conditioned atmosphere. Did this detract from the feel of the place? Not at all.
When Tribal Tech came on they tore the place up. Thundering drums, bubbling bass, keyboard and guitar lines weaving around each other with breathtaking virtuosity. The amazing thing, which I only noticed in retrospect, was how, despite being a fully amped, electric band in a small space, they weren’t too loud. At the end of the second set my ears weren’t ringing. The music did feel loud though, in a really good way.
Scott Henderson, the band’s guitarist, usually relies heavily on his whammy bar but this night it snapped off and he had to adapt his playing all though the second set to compensate. Gary Willis, one of the most original and enjoyable bass players was the star of the evening for me though. I’ve been a fan of the sound of a fretless bass since hearing Weather report’s 8;30 album. When I bought my first bass guitar (fretted) it took me a matter of weeks before I was back in the shop ordering a fretless version. Watching Gary Willis play is like reading a book on your favourite subject and discovering something new on every page.
Richard and I had decided against leaving the club late at night to schlep all the way back to our respective homes in the early hours. Instead we walked a few minutes from the club to a hotel and got some comfortable, air-conditioned sleep before getting up the morning for a tasty breakfast in a place off Oxford Street. He headed home while I spent a little more time in the music shops of Denmark Street and the bookshops around Charing Cross Road.
A good day.