Having just released their new compilation record ‘Never Stop… The Best Of,’ The Brand New Heavies play three special concerts in London, Birmingham and Manchester featuring players from the London Concert Orchestra. Pioneers of London’s burgeoning Acid Jazz scene of the early ‘90s, The Brand New Heavies took their love of sophisticated ‘70’s funk grooves and gave it a modern twist.
The string section from the London Concert Orchestra, which comprised of about a dozen in total take to the Symphony Hall stage shortly before the lights go down along with the band comprising Keys, drums, percussion, sax, trumpet and backing singer. Simon Bartholomew dressed in a red and white outfit along with top hat and Andrew Levy bedecked in a pair of sparking trousers, core members of the group since its founding, come out to rapturous applause and the show begins in earnest.
`Gimme One of Those` and `People Get Ready` get the funk started but it`s when singer Angela Ricci hits the stage and sings the mesmerising `Close To You` that this venue really explodes. We enjoy a few more soulful funk tunes before this forty-five-minute set closes out with `Got to Give` and `Day Break`
After a thirty-minute interval the band return after a change of outfit and head into the captivating `Never Stop`, dreamlike `Sometimes` and `Back to Love`. It`s back to 1994 for the sultry retro funk hit `Dream on Dreamer`, a really soulful version of the enticing `Midnight at the Oasis` a hit for Maria Muldaur in 1974 and groove laden `Brother Sister`.
The band revisit their debut album where `B.N.H` allows the players to really flex their muscles with some delightful percussive beats, horns, and guitar riffs before `Stay this Way` and `Dream Come True` close out tonight’s show.
It`s not long before the band return for a two-song encore with the timeless `Forever` and uplifting `You are the Universe`, take their bows and we all head home after this two-hour masterclass with some tunes planted in our heads.
I for one got up this morning with `Dream on Dreamer` running through my mind on repeat.
If you`re after an evening full of groove laden jazz-tinged, soulful dance music, you won`t find finer purveyors than the brand New Heavies.