I’ve been looking forward to the first Funke headline show I’ve been to, I think.
Bodega in Nottingham was the venue, with another night out on Saturday I opted for driving rather than working out a way of making it a drinkable trip – so we picked up Jamie and Teresa en route and headed to beautiful downtown Nottingham and got to the venue for a drink or two downstairs before the venue was open. Plenty of familiar faces were amassing (and an impressive collection of Brian Stone t-shirts, clearly some of us need to have a quick wardrobe-plan conversation before we head out to a gig!).
First up was local act Motormouf who I’m aware of but had never seen before – and wow, was he impressive! He unassumedly got himself on stage and straight into it combining a soundcheck with the start of his set. Highly compatible with Funke in that he was using loops and a sampler – but it was pretty much all vocal beatboxing (possibly with some other samples thrown in) – overlaid with hip hop vocals, thoughful rapping and clever lyrics, and an amazing stage presence with plenty of movement and eye-contact for the crowd.
I was really rather taken with him – in terms of track names, well I didn’t do very well on that score – What You Waiting For? was second track in I think, and he finished up an all-too-short set with a cracking interpretation of Earth Wind and Fire’s It’s Alright. He had to dash as he’d inadvertently double-booked himself so needed to get up to The Maze for another gig minutes later (good luck with that!), but definitely a good support act moment, someone I’d love to hear more from, and shall make sure that I do that very thing!
Quite an act to follow, but well – I don’t think there are many acts I’ve ever seen that Funke and the Two Tone Baby need feel too intimidated by! He kicked in with Never Used to Dance – he’s always seems to add extra oomph and twiddly bits to keep things sounding fresh. Bella’s Kiss followed, and then I’m Not Well. Then it was the doubly-exciting bit – NEW SONGS! The World Will Be A Wasteland is a bleak apolcalyptic prediction reflecting the disturbing general state of the world, interestingly there wasn’t quite the layers we’d normally get from a Funke track, more like a traditional folk (dare I say country?) song with looped strums and some lovely guitar picking work.
Next up he made a point of dedicating Anchor to Ella, who’d been covering his merch for him whilst on stage – he’s properly added some beefing up to it too, with keyboard and harmonica work – meanwhile on the merch desk Ella did a good job of keeping her composure! If You’re Nice To Me I Will Be Nice To You was next – some great singing along from the crowd for the ‘whoa-oh-oh-oh’ bits with minimal coaxing from the stage. After there was a brief explanation of the pretty severe haircut Funke seems to have had – he misguidedly put his trust in a barber’s suggestion! Still, it’ll grow back!
Back on to the set another new song – Genghis Khan which kicks in with an epic beat then guitar strums. A slight mix up over which loop pedal needed the percussion and chords saw a restart, then eventually it was aborted – he did warn us it was only a second outing and a cock up was likely, instead he moved straight into I’m Going to Buy a House, another new song with heavy beats and shouty vocals and ludicrous levels of catchiness – there was a singalong bit at the end that sounded curiously like he had the crowd chanting ‘ba-ba-banana’ in a trancelike state!
Back onto familiar territory Medicine for the Soul had a surprise extra epic instrumental section in there for my money, meanwhile we had the treat of two more new(ish) songs. The one I’ve yet to learn the title of (!) that I shall call The Office Song was up first and followed by the irresistibly danceable The Signal is Cut (which you’ll find on his Live Not Live album). That led to the inevitable Not Enough Bonobo, complete with a mysterious ape-like figure dancing on the stage, which turned out to be Kev who had to dispense with his bonobo mask when it got a bit too warm.
At first we feared no encore when the house music kicked straight in (although it was Bowie’s Blackstar album which isn’t a bad alternative!) but luckily for us he did return to the stage for a rousing cover of a mash-up of 54-46 That’s My Number melding into Tainted Love – finishing up singing and playing at the crowd without amplification, and then being hoisted aloft on Tom’s shoulders for a triumphant wander around the dancefloor whilst randomly pinching people’s hats. We had a little flurry of merch sales which was good – and got everything packed away whilst he got the stage cleared.
Once we’d had a chance to say goodbye to everyone it was a short wander to the car and a drive home. Awesome evening – so great to see a heathily full Bodega bouncing along to support a wonderful and hard-working artist playing pretty far away from home. He looked so happy to have some many folk attend and sing along. Next stop, a brewery in Burton to watch The Leylines, Black Thorn and Jonny Wallis – what could possibly go wrong?