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Review: Clusterfunk @ Bristol Beacon

Epigram music writers recount an evening of soul, funk, and all the jazz - let's talk about sax baby!

By Catrin Rees and Natasha Srinivas, Third Year Social Policy and Sociology and Third Year English

Epigram music writers recount an evening of soul, funk, and all that jazz -  let's talk about sax baby!

Those in the know know that Clusterfunk was the place to be on Monday night. Effortlessly cool, and with great jazz twists on staple songs, Jazz, Funk, and Soul Society (JFS), Bristol University Jazz Orchestra (BUJO), and The Bristol Hornstars took over Bristol Beacon to brighten up a dreary November evening. By the end of the night, the whole crowd was ready to ‘Get Busy’ (Sean Paul’s Version).

JFS took us swinging into the evening, setting the tone for a night that felt like ‘a cool party that cool people go to before turning up late to another cool party’, as so aptly put by one audience member. Their set introduced us to a few of the brilliant singers performing, who have some of the best voices we have heard of any Bristol music group. We loved the mix of instrumental jazz and renditions of songs by soul icons like Stevie Wonder and Norah Jones. To top it all off, the band also finessed that classic jazz move of throwing each other solos like musical conversation. Once we started dancing, we couldn’t stop; JFS left us wanting more.

JFS setting the mood for the night / Catrin Rees

And luckily for us, there was plenty to come. Up next was BUJO, the largest group of the night – with more saxophones on stage than people queueing outside Pret for their free coffee. We were in awe at the sheer amount of talent on stage, perhaps the most impressive being the conductor, who simultaneously juggled leading the orchestra and playing the trumpet with one hand. A crowd favourite was the Corinne Bailey Rae classic, ‘Girl Put Your Records On’ which had us all singing along and showering our mates with love.

The night ended on a high note with The Bristol Hornstars, who had the energy of the suave older sibling who had records you wanted to steal and friends you wanted to hang out with. Practice certainly does make perfect as there didn’t seem to be a single note out of place, despite almost everyone taking on a tricky solo. Their set finished with what might have been our favourite of the night, a one-of-a-kind jazz interpretation of Sean Paul’s 'Get Busy' – comically fitting for a band called The Hornstars.

The funky energy was only complemented by the great venue and lighting. The colourful groovy patterns sweeping across the room gave a studio 54 feel and set the mood for some jazzy shapes that were thrown around the floor. We have never attended an event with fewer technical difficulties and such smooth transitions between acts; it was seamlessly sensational.

The night was one giant, glorious Clusterfunk, and despite an outrageous £5.20 for a pint, the music more than made up for a slightly sore bank account.

Featured image: Catrin Rees

Did you go to Clusterfunk?