REVIEW: Snarky Puppy Concert
Snarky Puppy @ The Enmore 21 April 2019
Reviewed by Chris Zinn
It seems hard to believe that fusion was ever a dirty word in the jazz world given the high-energy performance of the acclaimed Brooklyn-based Snarky Puppy at the Enmore Theatre on Easter Sunday.
While labels are inadequate for such a moveable feast of a band, who were playing a side tour from Bluesfest, they have been called a ‘fusion-influenced’ jam band’ and describe themselves as “a pop band that improvises a lot, without vocals.”
Whatever you may call them they are a highly impressive incarnation of a strand of music, once derided by the critics, called fusion or jazz-rock.
Several times during the packed gig the musical mastery of all players transported this reviewer back decades to similarly memorable performances by Weather Report and The Mahavishnu Orchestra.
Fortunately for us Snarky Puppy have already achieved an enviable life expectancy and their flexible structure with some 40 players called ‘The Fam” suggests they intend to give pleasure for many years to come.
It’s been two years since the big band, a mere nine players on this occasion, graced our shores and despite their repertoire being entirely instrumental the crowd already seemed to love a good slice of of the set list.
As the founder and leader of the band from 2004 the bassist Michael League assured us from the start there was to be plenty of new material and not just from their 2019 album Immigrance.
All the musicians were worthy of mention as they took turns to delight the audience with their invention, versatility and often sheer funky grunt. A slight reservation might be with some of the material the parts, such as the solo spots, exceeded the delight of the whole.
It’s fair to say there is no other band I’m aware of like Snarky Puppy. They are obviously endearing a whole new audience to a style they can both pay tribute to and also take further ahead with a very special energy and expertise.