mon 02/08/2021

Young Pilgrims, Hare & Hounds, Birmingham review – raucous jazz rockers whip up a storm | reviews, news & interviews

Young Pilgrims, Hare & Hounds, Birmingham review – raucous jazz rockers whip up a storm

Young Pilgrims, Hare & Hounds, Birmingham review – raucous jazz rockers whip up a storm

Richard Foote’s brassy gang lift the roof for their home crowd

Rocking jazzers Young Pilgrims

With a third wave of Covid-19 being widely predicted in the media and the UK live music scene still not back on its feet after the last one, audiences must take their gigs however they are served up. Given the news coverage, I admit to having visions of the Hare and Hounds being set up like a school examinations room, but in the event it was not so bad.

The crowd for Young Pilgrims' long-delayed album launch of We’re Young Pilgrims found themselves seated in short rows of plastic seats as if to see amateur dramatics in a church hall. Nevertheless, as in the film Footloose, dancing was strictly banned, even if each chair was marked by a QR code for ordering waiter-delivered beer.

Still, the Hare was filled to its reduced-capacity brim, with many in the crowd eagerly anticipating their first dose of live music in almost 18 months – and they weren’t going to be disappointed. Richard Foote’s rocking jazzers delivered in no uncertain terms with a muscular phalanx of brass and two drum kits that could have knocked down the Walls of Jericho without amplification.

Strolling through the audience to take the stage looking like they had just wandered in from an afternoon of hanging out in the local park, Young Pilgrims were relaxed and betrayed none of the nerves that might be expected from a nine-piece that haven’t played together under the spotlight for so long. Kicking off with “Rufio” from their new album, the band made it clear that they meant business from their first notes, enthusiastically leaping around the stage as Chris Maddock hit his sax solo. The funky “Le Poisson Rouge” from debut album Little Things followed with no loss of energy, and it was clear that if the crowd had had the nerve, chairs would have been kicked aside and hips shaken like lives depended on it.

Foote, as ever, proved an engaging frontman. One minute he was letting rip with his trombone, the next acting as an enthusiastic hype man, and then giving out some entertaining stand-up schtick between songs. “Has anyone been to Japan? No? Well, this one’s for anyone who likes eating sushi then!” he smirked, before launching into fellow-trombonist Kieran McLeod’s “Kabuki Dance”. Cover versions of D’Angelo’s “Feel Like Making Love”, Elliot Smith’s “Everything Means Nothing” and Vulfpeck’s “Back Pocket” demonstrated that the band are seriously skilled at arranging other people’s work and coming out with something different and exciting. However, it was the band’s fine originals like “Canal Tripping”, “Little Things” and “Fighting Cocks” that proved the highlights of this raucous evening.

Bringing down the tempo and reminding us that there are plenty who have not made it through the Covid pandemic on an emotional even-keel with Michael Owers’s “You Don’t Have To”, Young Pilgrims showed that they are more than just a rampant party machine. Indeed, their sung refrain of “These are the days that you won’t forget in a hurry” from Little Things' "Closing Theme” also reiterated that things aren’t back to normal yet. But let’s hope that that light at the end of the tunnel really is a harbinger of leaping about in humid and sweaty rooms with like-minded souls without fear of arrest in the very near future.

If the crowd had had the nerve, chairs would have been kicked aside and hips shaken like lives depended on it

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

Explore topics

Share this article

Add comment

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters