Lydian Collective And The Capital Orchestra (18th October 2019)

Since our glowing review of their debut album Adventure, we at GIGsoup have been following every endeavour from the brightest band in modern jazz fusion. This time, the four performers are filling Cadogan Hall with the Capital Orchestra to run through a set of newly arranged works.

The Capital Orchestra is made up of (and conducted by) students, so the prejudiced opinion may expect a lesser performance. However, any possible concern was thrown far away from the opening notes of the live premier of the new Laszlo tune ‘Press Start’. Alternation between majestic melodies, electronic heavy beats and some incredibly late-on-the-beat performances from the incredible percussion section.

‘East’ is the first Lydian Collective track of the night, and its explosive basslines are teleported to another dimension by the brass section which turn an innocent piece of jazz fusion into a James Bond theme. ‘Child’ (by LC guitarist Todd Wheeler) doesn’t pack the same punch, but allows the string section to shine.

‘Shapons Vindaloo’ was made famous by Snarky Puppy themselves thanks to a collaboration with Väsen. An incredibly complex 23/8 time signature (split into 7/8, 7/8, 9/8) and string showcases show off the folk influences within, being performed with exceptional tightness by all 89 musicians on stage. While she’s arguably still the most talented musician on the stage (and I still think she should be the most in demand session musician in the UK at the moment) Sophie Alloway’s drumming is slightly buried by the work of the four other (also brilliant) percussionists around her.

The first half of the show came to a close with a cover of the Pat Metheny track ‘Third Wind’, in which the Capital Orchestra guitarist channelled the guitar virtuosity of the man himself. Despite the talent in the room and amazing LC tracks being played, it was this solo that inspired the biggest response of the night.

‘Loops’ opens the second half, with the brass basslines creating a truly apocalyptic feeling through their rumbling texture and colossal heaviness. ‘Mr Sunshine’ works particularly well alongside the orchestra, with the Lydian mode employed in full to create the brightest, happiest melody possible. Conductor Sam Gale also divulges the interesting titbit that Aaron Wheeler composed the track on the toilet…

While ‘November’ and ‘Cartoon Hero’ work well too, it becomes more and more apparently that Lydian Collective will be yet again avoiding ‘Thirty One’. Its bouncy rhythms and addictive melodies would make it the perfect tune to arrange, but for some reason they’ve avoided it once more.

Towards the end of the show, Gale informs the audience of his orchestras depressingly un-unique situation, announcing their hiatus from live shows for 12 months due to lack of funding. In a difficult time for the arts, this is a set of musicians who deserve to be able to play. Make sure you donate here in order to help them out.  

The main set comes to a close with the most recent LC tune, ‘High 555’. Its built on an Ida Hollis bassline which, in normal circumstances, sees her hands impressively weave their way around the neck of her bass. In this circumstance, five double basses surround her like an army, each throwing their arms around their instruments to keep up with the winding motif. Somehow, it works perfectly, and the track builds into an ecstatic and perfectly tight climactic chord.

The show comes to a close with ‘Legend Of Lumbar’, which combines every element of tonight’s show into one four minute package. An atmospheric opening leans into some complex rhythmic stabs, impressive soloing, amazing tightness and a huge final chord which echoes around Cadogan Hall.

A well-deserved standing ovation meet the musician, continuing to prove the importance of the criminally underrated Lydian Collective. However, this show also helped to prove that the Capital Orchestra and incredibly talented group of musicians who I’d love to see alongside other bands at some point within the next 12 months.

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