Liverpool Music Week: The Brand New Heavies @The Masque

Posted on 10 November 2009
By Ben Patey
  • Share:

The Brand New Heavies injected some much-needed funk into Liverpool Music Week at the Masque.

Frontrunners of the late 80s acid jazz movement the Brand New Heavies are probably more influential then many give them credit for. Their sound can still be heard in the slew of US neo-soul music from the likes of D’Angelo to Erykah Badu.

In the early days of hip hop, when it was just two turntables and a microphone, having a ready collection of samples and drum breaks was mandatory. After constantly regurgitating the likes of James Brown, Kool and The Gang and Zapp and Roger, when The Heavies came along, they were a breath and fresh air and artists were queuing up to work with them.

Jamiroquai and Incognito have both previously admitted that they wouldn’t have had a career if it wasn’t for the band.

Over a 20-year career, the role of lead female vocalist has oscillated somewhat. However, it was the original and best N’Dea Davenport that took to the stage on Monday night resembling some sort of funky and oddly sexy circus ringmaster while bassist Andrew Levy and guitarist Simon Bartholomew bounded onto the stage Jedward style, as if on invisible pogo sticks.

Unfortunately a few minor sound problems prevented Davenport from demonstrating the full power of her pipes until halfway through the set. And it’s not a voice that should ever be held back.

Some of the big hits such as ‘Dream On Dreamer’ and ‘Midnight At The Oasis’ were slightly lacking as a result and the ringmaster was getting irritable.

But when the sound was eventually sorted, Davenport revelled in being able to be heard all the way down Bold Street and celebrated by simultaneously wiggling her booty (she’s American) whilst flailing her arms like a dancing Shiva.

Meanwhile, Andrew Levy had his own harem of screaming women (who should have known better) scampering to touch his bass slapping arms. The men weren’t much better, shamelessly playing air bass to the songs they danced to 15 years ago.

And the hits kept coming. ‘Dream Come True’, ‘Never Stop’, ‘You Are The Universe’… You don’t get a career of such longevity unless you’ve got a few hits in the bag.

It must have been a case of ‘back to the drawing board’ for the funk band that supported them. Not that they weren’t good but for this particular genre, The Heavies are still the best.

They may not exactly be ‘brand new’ but this juggernaut of funk is still too heavy to be taken lightly.