Cecily Sheppard

Blast From the Past: Blastarama Launch Party

by Cecily Sheppard with images by Tonmy Lam Y. Kuen

As a humble flautist, I’ve often felt a little side-lined in the world of walking bass, jazz licks and the blues scale. Nevertheless, when I found myself faced with many a wall of Crown Place halls emblazoned with ‘Shake Your Brass’, I knew that the Blastarama Launch Party was where I was headed on the eve of 6th November. To tell the truth, what drew me in was a personal craving for live sax music – I used to play in a concert band and (yes, I’m saying it) I had got to the six week threshold where I was actually starting to miss having my ears blasted out by a row of alto saxophones for two hours every week. Either way, this, along with my motown-loving buddy being totally up for a night of live music, resulted in me finding myself pink-wristbanded and standing in the Stanley Theatre of Liverpool’s Guild of Students, half nine – sharp.

There was a soft bustle of people around the place as we waited for the music to commence, the night being opened by Mother Superior UK. As the evening started, we were entreated to the dark and gritty grooves of this Liverpool-based sextet whose music bounces around the genre realm of noise disco. With a distinctive sound created by the exploitation of two sets of leads vocals, Mother Superior UK’s set was an impressive one, perfect in cranking up the atmosphere ever-closer to the ‘party’ part of this launch event.

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Next up on stage were the Liverpool University Big Band, an eclectic range of players from all years across the university. Upon the onset of the big band’s set, the crowd seemed to have doubled in size, a throng of supportive friends and flatmates having joined the scene in the Stanley Theatre. Much of the band’s track listing consisted of instrumental versions of all the favourites, my personal highlight being their performance of ‘In The Mood’, something that brought back fond memories of many a concert. Not afraid to jazz up their line-up a little, Liv Uni Big Band also provided a mix of featured vocalists over their playing, a brilliant rendition Aretha Franklin’s version of ‘Respect’ being a standout moment where the audience really got into the vibe of the place. The band put on a great show that fired up the crowd, even if it lacked backing vocals on occasion (although nine times out of ten this was remedied by the audience.) But, all in all, there’s nothing like big band jazz to get a party going.

After a little bit of a break and fresh air, the Stanley Theatre welcomed Deliah. A duo consisting of Michelle Harris and Alex Dopierala, Deliah emblazoned the stage with a contemporary groove that was interlaced with soulful vocals and elaborate guitar parts, bringing a more chilled atmosphere to the scene. Currently in the middle of a UK tour, Deliah attracted an audience that steadily grew throughout their contemporary RnB set, giving the audience much to mull over in a night of fantastic live music. They exhibited extraordinary musical talent.

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Now by this point, I was under the impression that the Blastarama Launch Party couldn’t possibly hit a higher note in terms of quality – the night so far had oozed energy, excitement, and extraordinary talent. This assumption, however, came to mind before show-closers Funk Soul Continuum took to the stage. I think by the end of their funktastic set my mind was set on the intention of having this eight-piece play at every event I might ever decide to organise in the future – Funk Soul Continuum were something I fell for pretty swiftly. A white-shirt-red-tie look combined with slick virtuosity lit up a funkalicious performance that included everything funk and soul from Bruno Mars to Tina Turner, with a frontman that knew exactly how to wrap the audience round his little finger; absolutely funking awesome.

And so we came to the end of this Blastarama event. My feet hurt and I certainly needed a cup of tea, but after such a foot-tappingly fabulous night, I don’t know about you, but I’ll be keeping an eye out for the vivid red, orange and green posters advertising the next one. Blastarama certainly did what it says on the tin – I had an absolute blast.

As announced yesterday, Blastarama will soon be hosting a night in The Cellar, a newly renovated venue underneath the Guild:

Hosted in the UoL’s newest venue and back after the success of our Liverpool launch party, we’re bringing you another night of raucous brass, hot grooves and everything in between!

We’re excited to be hosting this event in Liverpool Uni’s latest renovation, The Cellar! Hidden and neglected beneath the UoL Guild for years, it has now been revived to its previous gritty allure and is ready to be enlivened by the itchy-feet brought by you guys…

With hip-moving rhythms and funky beats, get ready to shake your brass!

Information for the event can be found on the Facebook page. All photography credit goes to Tonmy Lam Y. Kuen of LYK Production & Photography.

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