Following on from the release of their stunning debut ‘Adventure’ earlier this year, Lydian Collective are on top form as they celebrate drummer Sophie Alloway’s birthday.
The tiny 606 club in Chelsea has played host to jazz bands for over 40 years, with owner and flautist Steve Rubie at the helm the entire time. The atmosphere immediately transports you back in time and the prospect of Duke Ellington and his Orchestra flooding the stage back in the 20’s is just as likely as the fusion of Lydian Collective taking command. The band walk out from amongst the audience, where Sophie in particular seems to know quite literally every single person, placing her shower of birthday gifts in front of her bass drum. Have we wandered into a family party?
Maybe. But it doesn’t really matter. The stunning fusion of classic jazz and electronic music captures the audience and immediately forces them into awe-filled silence. The stunning tightness of the entire band when pulling off complex rhythmic patterns that come in the form of ‘Loops’, ‘Equinox’ and ‘East’ is quite something to behold, but even more impressive is the individual skill each member displays. The dexterity with which guitarist Todd Baker moves huge chord shapes up and down the neck like its nothing; Ida Hollis’ quick movement around the bass without hitting a dud note; the sound manipulation and gloriously melodic improvisation of keyboardist Aaron Wheeler; and, of course, the tightness and feeling in Alloway’s drumming. It’s all unequivocally brilliant.
The occasional slower track allowed for a more relaxed departure from the complex rhythms the band must have been mathematically calculating throughout, while towards the end of the set we were treated to an exciting, as yet untitled, new track. This was all before, of course, Rubie himself took to the stage for a jazz flute solo Ron Burgundy would be proud of. He blended perfectly into the band, who all took their own solos with Alloway’s, unsurprisingly, bringing out the biggest applause.
It was her birthday after all, and after a quick intermission, a barrage of her friends and collaborators were eagerly awaiting their turn to jam with the well versed session player. Highlights from the long session included saxophone solos from the incredibly virtuosic Roberto Manzin, and a duet with legendary tabla player Kuljit Bharma. The only real low point of the 3 hour show was a bizarre performance of ‘Jumping Jack Flash’ that showed off nowhere near the same level of glorious skill as everyone else brought up on stage, and ended up sounding like (not great) karaoke.
But to bring it back around was a final hurrah from Lydian Collective, who treated us to the ‘Mr Sunshine’- potentially the most upbeat song of all time. Other than maybe ‘Happy Birthday’, for which the band accompanied the audience at the command of Rubie. Somewhat surprisingly, the show ended without us hearing any of the band’s current singles, like ‘Thirty-One’ or ‘Legend Of Lumbar’, but these lesser known tunes still infected everyone in the room within seconds.
Despite this tiny club being the perfect venue for the band’s impeccable tunes to shine, it’s baffling that these virtuosic creators aren’t able to fill Wembley Stadium in seconds.
Lydian Collective return to London in November and December.