Words by Audra Tracy | Photos by Craig Metz
Asbury Park, NJ — Just off Main Street in Asbury Park lies a refuge where fans of a true American art-form can call home. Since the venue opened a year ago, Chico’s House of Jazz has proven itself as a welcome addition to the famed Asbury music scene, attracting artists including Marco Benevento and Anders Osborne to its seaside stage.
On this evening, a magical green school bus was parked out front, beckoning party people like a bat signal for the counter-culture. Inside, the dimly lit club was prepared for a funk throw-down by the New Mastersounds, a British quartet that cut its teeth heating up nightclubs in their hometown of Leeds. For the first time ever NMS has recorded an album stateside, and Breaks From the Border is set to release this summer.
Chico’s was packed, especially for a weeknight during the ‘off season’, and the venue finally moved a few of those candle-lit dinner tables to make way for a much needed dance-floor. Boulder, Colorado’s Morsoul (proud owners of the magic green tour bus) got a polite reception as the opening act, but when NMS took the stage around 9:30, the headliner wasted no time in summoning fans front and center.
‘The Minx’ off 2005’s This is What We Do snuck in early with guitarist/songwriter Eddie Roberts conducting the ride. A subtle nod of the head or tilt of his ax lead band-mates Pete Shand (bass), Joe Tatton (Hammond organ), and Simon Allen (drums) through the fast-paced musical motions. Fans also got a taste of a few new tracks off Breaks from the Border, including ‘Take What You Need’, which featured group vocals reminiscent of vintage funk acts like Sly and The Family Stone or Parliament Funkadelic.
In between songs Allen commented on Chico’s supper club style set-up, noting the days when NMS played for uninterested restaurant patrons in Leeds, “making a massive racket and ruining their dining experience”. But judging by the soaring energy levels at Chico’s, NMS has found a much more receptive audience in the States – dread-locked white chicks and scantily clad cougars alike were spotted letting loose throughout the venue.
Allen worked up such a sweat in the first hour that he requested the band take a ten- minute costume break, joking that they should start playing “more ballads”. As promised, the set continued soon after with a James Brown cover of ‘Get on the Good Foot’, followed by ‘Make Me Proud!’ from their most recent LP Ten Years On.
A New Mastersounds show is like a strong dose of Ritalin for jamband fans – tight melodies keep your booty swinging like a pendulum, and you’ll never have to suffer through a meandering five-minute intro before the joyous musical peak. And as the Jersey shore learned on this night, NMS can quickly transform your normally quiet Tuesday into a Saturday night dance-off.
TheWaster.com | Asbury Park