Seamus McGarvey reports on The Fatback Band at Nell's Jazz & Blues Club, West Kensington, London
It had been almost three years since I'd last seen The Fatback Band, so Saturday 6th February provided a great opportunity to catch them again at this club, a good venue in terms of proximity to the acts on stage, where they drew a large and lively Saturday night crowd. The eight-piece band, led by original founder-member Bill Curtis, with trumpeter Ledjerick Woods (pictured below) and guitarist Darryl McAllister from the 2013 line-up, also featured a number of new faces: Roby Lock Jr,( tenor sax), Desmond Humphrey (drums and lead vocals), Fancy Gemini (background vocals), Zack Guinn (bass and vocals) and Bob James (keyboards).
Right from the outset they hit a strong funky instrumental groove, keeping up the pace throughout, with Bill very much in charge of direction, rhythm and feel, keeping it all flowing smoothly. The numbers ranged right across their recording years, starting early in the set with movers from the 1970's like 'Wicky Wacky', 'Keep On Steppin'' and 'Do The Bus Stop', where Ledjerick, Roby and Fancy demonstrated the steps for the latter down amongst the energetically dancing fans. It was then on into the 1980s with the rap-oriented 'Is This The Future?', the neatly moving 'Backstrokin'' and, to close, 'I Found Lovin'' which almost lifted the roof off.
All the numbers were greeted enthusiastically, and the vocals, the leads handled mainly by Desmond, with support from Zack and Fancy, remained strong throughout, despite a few sound system problems. An encore of the funky 'Yum Yum (Gimme Some)' and 'I Like Girls' brought a 90-minute set of R&B dance music at its best from a talented band of musicians to an exciting conclusion. Great band, great rhythms and great music – and the crowd loved them. Excellent! Seamus McGarvey
Pictured below are Bill Curtis, Fancy Gemini and Roby Lock.