Monday 12 March 2018

On Stage: GoGo Penguin @ Paradiso

I've always liked penguins. There's something about their funny behaviour that I find comforting. It tells me to not take everything too seriously. Just look at them moving about in their kind of tongue-in-cheek walk of life. So a band named GoGo Penguin can't go wrong in my book, especially when they play groovy exciting jazz music.

GoGo Penguin at Paradiso Amsterdam, March 9 2018

There's a blackout in Amsterdam that cuts the power of the entire city centre including Paradiso. Fortunately before the end of the afternoon, power for the venue has been restored and shows can continue as scheduled. The Manchester trio has a wonderful new album A Humdrum Star out and plays many of the new tunes. Pianist Chris Illingworth's light melodies are backed up by the incredible rhythm section consisting of Nick Blacka on double bass and drummer Rob Turner. They don't waste a lot of time talking in between, except for the few times where Blacka thanks the audience or introduces a song or members of the band.

And why waste time anyway when you can use it to play these amazing songs that sound both classic and modern? The double bass give the songs the jazzy feel where the break beats on drums add a modern edge to it. The result is that the classical sounding piano melodies become very groovy and danceable. It sounds like a weird combination but it works incredibly well.

The trio know how to avoid the clichés and pitfalls of jazz music. The songs are not divided in individual alternating solos that are unnecessarily stretched. Instead all instrumental compositions, that they wrote themselves, have their own structure and keep capturing everyone's attention. Halfway the lights go out but the music continues while people light the stage with their cellphones. Another power problem? Probably not, but it is a nice touch. Like the penguins the threesome add some tongue-in-cheek elements to their solid performance, emphasizing the fun in music.

All Pictures

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