Of Big Bands and smiles: GBH at the The Prom, Friday 12th February

I’m sure I’ve said this before: there is something blood-stirringly, infectiously exciting about a big band going full throttle. The thing that gets me, is the power and those swooping ‘en masse’ fills you get sometimes after a bit of harmonised, embellished melody. That’s all down to the writing as well as the playing and I don’t know where they get them, but GBH give good chart. This was the night of a thousand deps but what deps…. Kevin Figes on baritone, Johnny Bruce on trumpet (those lungs!) Dale Hambridge on keys… The repertoire is not boundary pushing but it was a great big warm party atmosphere at the Prom in Bristol last Friday, and a reasonably strong pulse was all that was required to enjoy it (heart beat not drum beat). My favourite moment was as  GBH were getting stuck into Mingus towards the end of the evening, two young women (surely under 20) stood near the band and, brows furrowed, took in the spectacle (surely a unique occurrence – that many people in the band at the prom and still room for an audience). Slowly but surely, shoulders were unhunched and a smile spread over their faces as the music and irresistible energy took over. Did anyone leave  without a smile on their face?

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