Ahead of his stop-off in Glasgow for the latest edition of the BBC 6 Music Festival, Far Out headed to Gorilla in Manchester to catch a live show from bass extraordinaire and all-round top notch experimentalist, Thundercat.
Now on full-length album number three, his latest LP Drunk is perhaps his most complete to date, marrying R&B sensuality with jazz, funk, and a more than healthy dose of the weird and wonderful.
Not only that, but tonight’s show comes as undeniable proof that he has no problem translating such a smorgasbord of influences to the live stage with consummate ease.
Accompanied by a small but hugely effective backing band, Thundercat (real name Stephen Bruner) enchants a packed-out crowd from the off after arriving on stage ever so slightly later than scheduled. A smattering of jazz-fusion keyboard parts add a rich vein of colour to the show, while a powerhouse of a drummer not only keeps time but also threatens to steal the show at times. It’s the first time we’ve heard a sound that so effortlessly slides between influences ranging as far as OutKast to Squarepusher.
The tinges of the latter perhaps provide the most thrilling segments of the show, with a frantic onslaught of rhythm that sets pulses racing while never losing complete control.
The sold out venue get their money’s worth too, with a bumper set that comes in at just under two hours. There not a single second that feels like it lags.
Expansive as it may be, there are still enough hooks and earworm choruses to entice even the most staunch pop fans, with recent single ‘Them Changes’ already sounding like a classic slice of funk that has stood the test of the decades.
Drunk is a record that takes advantage of some friends in high places, with a guests including Kendrick Lamar, Pharrell Williams and Flying Lotus to name just three, but Bruner demonstrates fully that he has the confidence, technical ability and unbridled soul to bring such collaborations to life all on his own.
Even after a marathon setlist, the crowd aren’t ready to file out just yet, with an encapsulating encore following that ensures a larger venue surely awaits the next time he arrives in town. An enthralling show.