Genre fusion is becoming increasingly popular in the modern music scene. This has allowed many artists who would normally have niche audiences expand to the edge of the mainstream. GoGo Penguin are one such band. They are a jazz trio and in that sense are rather traditional, however their hypnotic energic beats and rhythms often feel like they would be more at home in electronic dance music. In the past their live shows have stayed within the jazz tradition, performing in churches, concert halls and jazz bars. However, their set up for this current tour is more reminiscent of the standing shows they did a few years back with big bass cabs, reverb, a massive light show and most importantly a standing crowd.
The majority of the show was made up of track from their latest album a Humdrum Star, starting out slower with opening tracks Prayer and Raven the grooves and beats soon moved up a gear as they began to introduce the more energetic tracks. Reactor and Protest both stood out as the best of the night and provided the unique opportunity to rave to jazz music. Moments of respite were provided throughout the concert with slower tracks allowing the audience a break from the intensity and a chance to reflect upon the experience. While they provided a slow pace at no point did they feel out of place or disappointing.
This tour is also the first since GoGo Penguin signed for Sony Records and as such there was a large increase in production design from previous tours. This was most obviously reflected in the light show which eliminated the stage in red, white and blue light. This combined with a smoke machine reacted a simple but beautiful aesthetic which perfectly reflected the music.
While all of these other elements contributed to the transcendent nature of the gig the most important and impressive aspect was the band themselves. It is rare to see people perform who have truly mastered their craft and when this happens it is very special, this was one of those occasions. From interacting with the audience to the actual performance they aced the lot. Numerous times throughout I was in complete awe at the fact they could even play some of the songs they. Of all of the elements Rob Turner’s drumming stood above everything. I was constantly transfixed by watching him and the precision with which he played such complex rhythms.
If you ever get the chance to see GoGo Penguin perform live, take it. I am often guilty of using undue superlatives to describe experience, but in this case, I am completely justified in saying this was one of the best pieces of live music I have ever seen.
Written by Max Modell