Live Review: Smoove and Turrell / Vandebilt – Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh 29.01.2022

Logo for band Smoove and Turrell on drum
Credit: Julia Mason

So here we are at last – the long awaited album launch show for Stratos Bleu released June 2020 on Jalapenos Records. Smoove and Turrell returned to the Voodoo Rooms in Edinburgh after a stomping gig in 2018. It’s quite rightly a sold out show although the current circumstances mean the room is not full to capacity, but all the better for those who want to dance. And Smoove and Turrell are a band you cannot help but dance to. The pandemic has hit all aspects of the arts hard, and tonight is a prime example of why it is so important. By the end of the night the whole room is dancing, arms in the air, smiles on faces and having an uplifting joyous shared experience with this band. And ‘with’ is the operative word here. It obviously means as much to Smoove and Turrell to perform as it does to us to sing and dance. The set was sprinkled with classic tracks including ‘I Can’t Give You Up‘, ‘Mr Hyde‘, ‘Slowdown‘ and ‘Have Love‘ as well as the majority of the tracks from the ‘new’ album. Lead singer John Turrell has a voice to die for. This is funk and soul at its very finest. ‘Do It‘ ‘EP‘ ‘It Ain’t Working‘ ‘Elgin Towers‘ ‘Talk About Nothing‘ and ‘It’s You‘ from Stratos Bleu were all performed flawlessly.

A Smoove and Turrell gig does, however include a huge amount of banter, and they were like caged animals finally let loose! Hilarious and wearing their hearts on their sleeve it was so entertaining, even calling out Dutch labelmates and fellow funksters Kraak & Smaak who have a new album out, although this led to a hilarious anecdote on how Alexa would respond to this request if it was made with a Scottish accent! From thanking Nicola Sturgeon for setting us free, and suggesting Hadrians Wall should move further south (they are from Gateshead) it was a constant stream of entertainment. You couldn’t keep your eyes off keyboard player Mike Porter who seemed to have ants in his pants. His antics included dancing with the crowd and up on his keyboard, and wearing some very dodgy headgear and aviator goggles.

Rather than doing the go off stage and come back on again malarkey at the end, they simply kept on playing. The final tracks of ‘Will You Be Mine?‘, ‘Beggarman’Could Have Been a Lady‘ and ‘I’m a Man‘ showed Smoove and Turrell at their very best, and the crowd loved single second of it.

Support was by Vanderbilt, also from the North-East of England and they perfectly complemented Smoove and Turrell as their music was in the same vein, which is simply quality funk and soul. They too were overjoyed to be finally back playing live and they really got the vibe right, getting the party started before Smoove and Turrell came onstage.

It is so good to have gigs back…….

Previous Live Review: Big Country / Harriet Rose Band, The Picturedrome, Holmfirth, 28.01.2022
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