Thu, 08 Oct 2020
Big Boss Man, at Arlington Arts, Snelsmore, on Friday, September 25
Review by BRIAN HARRINGTON
LIVE music made a welcome return to Arlington Arts with a great gig from local musician Nasser Bouzida (aka The Bongolian) and his band Big Boss Man.
The first live show in six months was carefully planned by Arlington Arts to comply with all social distancing measures. Drinks can only be ordered and paid for online, there is a one way system inside the venue and e-tickets plus a revised seating plan which significantly reduces audience capacity, all of which contribute to providing an environment that is as Covid safe as is possible in these strange times.
Did these measures destroy the atmosphere or detract from the enjoyment of a live show? Categorically no, and Big Boss Man played their part in making this a memorable night to the full.
The evening started with a short DJ set of mainly 60s and 70s soul and funk 45s played on vinyl, which might have worked better in a setting in which the audience could dance and get in the mood for the band. Fortunately Big Boss Man don’t really need a warm-up act. They opened with the rather apt track Fever and produced a set full of great numbers which spanned their entire 22-year history, with Nasser Bouzida moving, apparently effortlessly, from Hammond, to mini-Moog and a third set of keyboards, as well as bongos and snare drums.
It is hard to categorise the music of Big Boss Man – think of it as a fusion of funk and retro soul by the likes of Arthur Conley and Curtis Mayfield, infused with jazz and 1960s-inspired movie soundtrack music, always superbly played and, more often than not, instrumental.
They followed up with The Hawk, a track first released in 2005, Aardvark from their Last Man On Earth album and Sea Groove, a track that has been streamed 4.3 million times. They included Beat Breakfast, The Olympian and the excellent C’Est Moi, before ending with Humanize and finally, as a much-demanded encore, Kelvin Stardust.
After a six-month hiatus, it was great to see live music make a comeback at Arlington Arts and Big Boss Man with their retro feelgood sound were pretty much the ideal band for the job.
Excellent music from an excellent band. The audience loved every minute.