Tonight’s incarnation is eleven members strong with two keyboardists, horn section, the usual drums, bass and guitar plus two guys playing some sort of electronic push button noise making thingy. I’m sure there’s a proper musical definition for this instrument but forgive me I don’t know what it is.
After the stage time for some reason being as secret as the nuclear codes, the venue is full to bursting 45 minutes before the band come on at 9. This venue and part of London is special for the Roots as they lived here for a while and their first gigs were here.
Primarily known as a hip hop band what the next two hours shows is that they are so much more than this. These are all highly talented musicians, sparking off each other throughout the set, improvising, counter improvising all led by band leader Questlove behind the drums. All genres of music are taken in tonight, blues, rock, soul, RnB, ragtime and even a little jazz with excellent covers of ‘Jungle Boogie’, ‘Move on up’, ‘Sweet child of mine’ and especially Led Zep’s ‘Immigrant Song’.
The shows starts strongly and grows and grows in intensity with the final third of the set being right up with the best shows I have ever seen.
They are clearly having fun, laughing and joking throughout with choreographed dance routines with a special mention for Tuba Gooding Jr on the Sousaphone who struts around with this massive bit of kit wrapped around himself.
A top top night for an amazing live band in an intimate settings. It doesn’t get better than this.
Keep on rockin’ y’all.