h

Snarky Puppy proved they’re one of the most talented bands in the Western Hemisphere when they graced the Melbourne Recital Centre

It's only been ten months since Brooklyn-based neo-jazz fusion powerhouse Snarky Puppy last graced Melbourne with their presence, This time around, the nine-piece played two shows at the ultra-sleek Melbourne Recital Centre. Fans may have been constrained to their seats but this proved not to be a big issue. The acoustics of the room were a huge strength, and the “concert” nature of the venue served to enhance the theatricality of the night.
 
It was almost painful how tight Snarky Puppy were – if it wasn't for the knowledge that the group have been playing together for over ten years, with eleven records under their belt, you almost wouldn't believe what you were witnessing.
 
There was something so deeply instinctual about the dynamic that each member has with one another, not to mention how masterful each player is with their instrument. Michael League's bass playing felt like the pulse of their soundscape; the underlying silky smooth current that could be both filthy and heavenly. Keyboardist Shaun Martin took the cake for character of the night; his excitement was infectious, engaging the audience in a call and response singalong to Give Up The Funk, until telling everyone to “shut up” when the band changed mood.
 
Cory Henry delivered an unforgettable organ performance. Halfway through the set  a beautiful rendition of Gemini from Culcha Vulcha was played; League, trumpet player Mike Maher and Martin crooned the most ethereal vocal harmonies over Mark Lettieri's slide guitar, their voices blended so well together, and the pure beauty of the melody alone had all fans a bit misty-eyed. 
 
Further into the set, all instrumentalists cleared the stage for what proved to be a heated drum battle between Japanese percussionist Keita Ogawa and drummer Jason Thomas. The rhythmic ability of both drummers was astounding, a clear stand out for the entire set. 
 
Snarky Puppy left punters with an exhilarating finale after receiving a standing ovation for their best-loved track Shofukan. Mark Lettieri took the reins and dived into a slow burner guitar solo that unfolded into an intense release of energy for the whole band.
 
Snarky Puppy are nothing short of being one of the most talented bands in the Western Hemisphere, and it won't be long before Melbourne are pining for their return again.
 
Words by Jess Zanoni
Image by Anna Madden
 
Highlight: Martin's three minute impromptu vocal/keyboard solo at the end of Gemini. I say impromptu because even his band mates looked intrigued.
Lowlight: Absolutely nothing.
Crowd favourite: Just the whole bloody thing.