If you think this looks like fun then you’ll love the Craig Charles Funk & Soul Club at Band On The Wall each month.
However if, like me, you enjoy dancing to music, as opposed to watching someone play CDs on a stage as though it were a performance, then you’ll be disappointed.
Craig Charles appeared to be channelling James Brown: he looked as if he was engaged in an incredibly strenuous and physically taxing activity…
His considerable stage presence, combined with the slide show behind him, which consisted of 70s album covers and pictures of himself, drew everyone’s attention to the stage and away from the activity of listening to the music itself… and dancing to it.
I’ve come to the conclusion that club nights at Band On The Wall are doomed to be unbalanced because of the lay-out… the space is designed to be a gig venue. DJs who dominate the stage twist the club-vibe out of shape; when people at a ‘disco’ all face in the same direction then something’s not right.
These gripes aside, some of the music was really good. The Stevie Wonder Superstition remix/mash-up by Funkanomics sounded amazing on the BOTW sound system: stevie-wonder-superstition-funkanomics-remix. It’s just a shame that the crowd were reduced to pogo-ing, or something similar, due to lack of space.
I moved upstairs for a bit more room, but dancing on carpet is never a great experience; why they laid carpet in Band On The Wall at all is a mystery, unless it was an acoustic decision.
The band, Nick Pride & The Pimptones were very good.
The Pimptones are accomplished musicians and, at first, their classic funk style seemed unsuited to Nick’s rather plain singing voice; however I got used to this and started to really enjoy their sound.
Then they peformed a piece of music which featured recorded American funky vocals playing over their live instruments, like karaoke in reverse; the disembodied voices created a very odd effect, although when I looked round the room to observe the crowd’s reaction, other people didn’t seem to find it strange.
After this, a female guest vocalist joined the band; her singing style was more obviously suited to the style of the band than Nick’s, but the effect was more predictable and perhaps less distinctive as a result. Nick Pride & The Pimptones did a great set and obviously relished the chance to perform in front of such an enthusiastic crowd.
When I chatted to one of the band members after their performance, he dismissed my criticisms of Craig Charles’ dominance of the venue and the sheep-like crowd, pointing out that C.C. had done a huge amount of work to raise the profile of funk and soul music through his show on Radio 6, and that this had to be a good thing. And I couldn’t argue!
From now on I will be enjoying the Craig Charles Funk & Soul experience exclusively via my radio.
The Craig Charles Funk & Soul Show is on BBC Radio 6 Music on Saturday evenings from 7pm – 10pm.
The next Craig Charles Funk & Soul Club at Band On The Wall features James Taylor Quartet live on Saturday 29th October 2011: