Gig review – Mammal Hands, 19 August 2017

It’s been a while since my last gig review, despite going to at least one gig in the interim: the Vijay Iyer trio at London’s Wigmore Hall, which, by the way, was great.  So it’s time to get stuck in again.

For the last few years (I don’t know since when) there’s been a jazz festival in the middle of Canary Wharf, one of London’s financial districts.  I’ve been a couple of times previously and have always had a good time.  The attraction for me this year was Mammal Hands, a Norwich-based trio consisting of piano, drums and saxophone.  I bought their album Floa a year or so ago and liked what I heard, a cross between jazz, electronica and minimalist composers, such as Philip Glass.  Their music isn’t dissimilar to GoGo Penguin, whom I’d seen play last year, but has more of an improvisatory streak running through it.

The band kicked-off with Quiet Fire, the opener off Floa, which remains my favourite track off the album.  They didn’t disappoint.  The rest of the set was filled with other tracks off of Floa.  While I enjoy the album, live each song started to sound rather samey, with most inhabiting a familiar sound world – a combination of repetitive riffs.  In all fairness to the band, they say on their website that they’re influenced, amongst other things, by ‘shamanic African trance music’.  Who isn’t, eh?  The band played some new material off their new album, which is due to be released early next year.  If memory serves, the new material served up sounded more colourful and made the live experience more uplifting.  I’ll be sure to check out the new album but would think twice about seeing them again if the next album is more of the same.