Due to a tragic shooting in the venue the previous weekend, Amp Fiddler’sscheduled appearance at the Scala had to be postponed. There was however,rich consolation in the form of an invitation-only gig at the swanky newBig Chill House a few doors down the road, with donations on the door goingto the charity Mothers Against Guns.
Such gigs can unfortunately be a double-edged sword. On the one handit’s a huge privilege to see an artist such as Amp Fiddler up close andpersonal in the company of little more than a hundred people, his musicperfectly suited to such a scenario. On the other, when a good number ofthose people are constantly yakking during the music, mounting hostility hasto be kept at bay.
So it was at the start here, with a whole bunch of people catching upwith each other at the back, but as it became apparent Amp Fiddler wasgiving a storming performance the chat abated and the crowd moved towardsthe makeshift stage.
The set was essentially a showcase for second album Afro Strut, with theAfroludes recurring on two occasions to punctuate the show. This was donewith a nice touch of humour and a huge amount of funk, as Fiddler stood upfrom his keyboards to a considerable height, though when he sang, “she’sgot an afro strut” he seemed to look into the middle distance as ifimagining a particular woman.
His stage presence served to show just how tall he is, with an arm spanthat would make him the albatross of funk! Several times he exhorted thecrowd with an expansive wave, playing off the now enthusiastic reactionwith an easy banter. The band also seemed to be thoroughly enjoyingthemselves, with a tight knit sound secured through a rock solid yetflexible rhythm section.
Fiddler judged the opening If I Don’t to perfection, starting with justhi-hat accompaniment but gradually adding more texture to raise the songinto an out and out funk number. Luv + War respectfully included referencesto Edwin Starr’s War and John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, bothgiven with his characteristically smooth delivery, effortlessly soulful andnever taxed.
The voice was the star for sure, with a richness that carried thesoulful tracks easily, making Right Where You Are a tender love song andFind My Way Back an ultra cool piece of funk. But his whole demeanour wasmost endearing as he threw himself into the music, his intention always toplease.
With the right blend of polish and improvisation the band were on theirmettle the whole way through, fully earning the twelve bottles of water putonstage beforehand! With solos for each to end raucous bass, syncopateddrum fills, riotous guitar and keyboards their night was complete, andAmp Fiddler’s music had left a warm glow in the heart.