For a band that has been around in one form or another for over 20 years, the Hot 8 Brass Band remain something of a best kept secret for many. Their current tour of the UK is in support of new album On The Spot and although interest has been piqued by last month’s performance at Glastonbury, there’s still much to discover about their unique blend of hip-hop, funk and jazz all wrapped up in the marching band style so closely associated with their hometown of New Orleans.
The backbone of the whole show is band leader Bennie Pete, whose sousaphone is not only a striking visual aspect to the band, but provides the low bassline on which the rest of the sound is built. Frontman and trumpet player Alvarez Huntley is the on-stage spokesman for the group, leading the crowd into as much audience participation as he can by urging them to wave their arms and sing along – but only singing when he says so!
No-one was going to argue with him, such was the positivity and infectious energy in the room. In fact, it’s hard to know how they manage to keep the whole thing going as one seamless thread for the duration of their 90 minute set, with virtually no breaks between songs. The music itself was supercharged throughout, with a mixture of their own material as well as a host of covers all given the ‘Hot 8’ treatment. Among the best of these were the Snoop Dogg track What’s My Name and the Marvin Gaye standard Sexual Healing.
It’s hard to think of a more unique act on the circuit right now. If you have an opportunity to catch them at one of their remaining festival dates this year (including Truck Festival in Oxfordshire and Tramlines in Sheffield) then best make them a priority.