This Buffalo Brothers article was written by John Gittins, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Gavin Wells. Lead photo Steven Sibbald aka orangemouse.net
Buffalo Brothers have been tipped as the best Funk band to come out of Manchester. After seeing them at Dulcimer in Chorlton, it’s safe to say that such a comment is incredibly understated; they’re the hottest Funk band to come out of the North West in the last five years no doubt. The core members met whilst working on a tour with Sam Gray and originally performed as a quintet, before adding a fantastic brass section. The band make up a standard soul band, drawing inspiration from The Meters and Blue Note, but frequently feature a number of pristine vocalists who are all rising stars in their own right; an organic style that competes with the incredible in-house talent of the guests on Post-modern Jukebox.
Receiving rave reviews from Soul connoisseur Craig Charles on his BBC 6 Show ‘Funk and Soul’, and performing at some of the hottest venues across the country, the Brother’s put on the gig to celebrate the fantastic reception of their rising career and release of their debut album – ‘Fresh from the Horn’. The small venue barely managed to cope with the 100+ attendees as people poured into the space. The stage, if it could be called that, was a simple rug at a slight elevation to the audience and the nine musicians crammed on to it were at arms length from the crowd. The humidity was almost unbearable, but all was forgotten as the band jumped straight into a fast, hard chromatic rhythm; hitting us hard as the space became alive.
Their first guest vocalist, Jack Dixon leapt on stage out of the crowd and the Brother’s began their electrifying set with the enlighteningly hard riff of ‘Its Been a While’, that almost overpowered the eloquent beat poetry that Dixon spat. There was no pre-gig jitters here as the ensemble hit every beat, hit, and chord with tight ferociousness. Everyone was on their feet dancing within seconds as the Brothers smashed through their lead single ‘Dark Matter’, a track that plays accents on unexpected backbeats, catching the audience off guard.
The set blended a variety of styles with barely room for praise; segueing seamlessly, ranging from emotionally charged brass harmonies of ‘The Sicillian’ that seeped into the bodies in attendance, before breaking off for silky solos and daring drum patterns. Buffalo covered every possible alteration of the genre, with the fashion of experienced veterans.
The set-list was inquisitive and intuitional, and to mark the second act of sorts, the band melted into ‘String Theory’, a Coltrane vibe with an amazing Saxophone solo from the talented Simon Reynolds, that helped give the exhausted crowd a quick breather to salvage. But after the hypnotic beat, a Wild Cherry style ‘Mama’s Coming’, with the fantastic Martin Connor, ensued a classic and original funk omnibus.
Soul vocalist, Hayley Williams, dominated the stage for ‘Good Ol Days’, and as Brothers neared the end of their phenomenal set, frontman Ryan Hayes gave an honest and praised comment of “I’ve never been so wet and happy in my life”. Moving into the showstopper ‘Red Giant’, a ferocious riff that shifts in tempo and key continuously, the band synchronised an exaggerated rituendo, rivalling the anticipation of any song before it, leaping into a sexy, heart stopping half-time beat that rocked the core of the room. The cheers and woops that had intermitted throughout the set, turned to roars and screams of admiration, and the band encored with a famed cover of Arctic Monkey’s ‘Do I Want To Know’
The gig came to a close; the performers and audience congratulated each other, and even after each vocalist disappeared into the crowd to back pats and handshakes, the humble and honest complexity of Buffalo Brothers became bewilderingly clear. The band originally formed through different outfits and connections in the Manchester scene. They’re organic and open. As the vocalists were also part of the crowd, it welcomed a sense of significance to everyone who participated. Culminating together in a single organism of clarity and achievement, the amazing everyman expression had been realised.
All of us, musician to supporter are and always will be Buffalo Brothers.
‘Fresh from the Horn’ will be available via iTunes, Spotify and Amazon on 30th October