Tuesday 10 December 2013

Sons of Kemet - Barbican Charmers

Oren Marshall - Tuba
 Where the previous occupants of the Barbican stage (21/11/2013) enticed us into their void of Rorschach jazz, Sons of Kemet did quite the opposite. The rampant quartet of Shabaka Hutchings, Oren Marshall, Tom Skinner and Seb Rochford burst their banks like the rolling dry ice that signalled their exuberant arrival. This was the end of my EFG London Jazz Festival experience and I saw a few familiar faces lurking after Mehliana's first set. Jamie Skey of the Quietus looked even more jaded than myself while legendary Jazz-Face Steve Marchant was spritely, despite having stayed up late to watch his beloved cricket the night before.

Seb Rochford - Drums
This concert was as much about performance as it was the music. Firstly there is Hollow Auditorium Affliction to overcome, a disease which can render the most jazz loving audience seat bound and many an experienced musician floundering in the footlights. A full Barbican is very different to playing in Oliver's Bar in Greenwich for instance. Then there is the Second Set Malaise, that can arise after your Headliners have exited stage right.

Shabaka Hutchings -
Tenor Saxophone
Sons of Kemet turned the tables. If you didn't know who was the King and who were the pretenders, then you would have assumed that SOK were the incumbents.

Luckily Oren Marshall's Tuba is pinned upon a tripod support because his presence seemed to roam throughout hall. It is indeed fortunate that the huge instrument is shackled as his mesmeric hip action flows right down to his feet. He resembles a keep fit Lovely, marching on the spot but never moving, and yes I think this could be the next Keep Fit craze. The Tumba could rival the mighty Zumba.

It goes without saying that Seb Rochford follicly catches the eye but it was the skipping dancing Shabaka Hutchings that grabbed the crowd's attention. After Oren Marshall's swelling chuckle on the second tune it was Hutchings who musically danced around him, sending out shafts of sunlight from his clarinet. These hollow rays burst into a swarm of fire flies that ultimately dispersed amongst the enthusiastic crowd. We were entranced equally by the range of the Tuba in Marshall's hands. He started the subsequent tune with a cloying rumble as if the Jaberwocky itself were waking from its slumber and then he slipped us into the wandering Yorkshire Dales where our sodden boots stuck in its rich earth.

Tom Skinner - Drums
When your eyes wandered from the Shabaka snake and his charmer Marshall it was to the drumming twins stage centre. Tom Skinner sexed it up with his thigh slapping raps and we all wondered what goes on in the head of cool cucumber Seb Rochford.

Before the standing ovation we had one last chance to see Oren Marshall fire a volley of shots with his swivelling Tuba at Shabaka Hutchings while his buttocks clenched and unclenched in time with the latter's slithering melodies.

I met the aforementioned Jamie Skey on my way out and he looked a different man. He had been revived and was animatedly full of energy for more London Jazz Festival outings. For me it was the end, the perfect way to go out on a high.



  1. Great stuff. I thought the Sons were sensational, I've seen them several times and this was the best gig

    1. Yes Steve, I thought they were magical too. See you soon I hope