LIVE: GoGo Penguin - Gorilla, Manchester

There possibly could not have been any better occasion for us to catch GoGo Penguin on the live stage for the very first time, with their latest jazz fusion masterpiece A Humdrum Star having dropped just the day before.

Add to this the fact that this sold out show at Gorilla marks a magnificent homecoming and it was really only ever going to go one way.

Whether it’s a conglomeration of these factors or simply an unbridled confidence in their new material, it is indeed the band’s latest work that dominates the set. That’s certainly not to say they don’t dip their toes into former glories, however.

Instant classics like ‘Reactor’ have the most vibrant of audiences bouncing throughout, with a level of exuberance from the crowd that you simply rarely see during sets led by the use of a grand piano and double bass.

What’s truly impressive, though, is the way that the trio manage to maintain a feeling of intimacy on a Saturday night at a mid-sized standing venue. Bassist Nick Blacka does the talking in between tracks, staying true to the group’s easy going routes. Calm and relaxed, he gives the audience short introductions to many of the songs, giving a valuable insight into their conception and significance to the musicians themselves.

But that’s certainly not to say there aren’t more high-octane moments involved. Swathes of electronica are woven into the sound over the top of drummer Rob Turner’s hypnotic percussion, as the venue’s pair of disco balls glisten against the stage lights. And with it being the final night of the tour, too, Blacka is intent on giving everyone their dues.

Sound techs, lighting and moniotor engineers are all name-checked and rewarded with an equally warm reception from the audience.

Four albums in and we can now confirm GoGo Penguin have reached encore level. To be fair, even if they themselves felt they haven’t, this crowd aren’t going anywhere until they hear some more.

As the infectious build of ‘Protest’ fills the room there is a universal feeling throughout Gorilla that this has been a glorious homecoming.

Patrick Davies