Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club – March 11th
When I heard about Fair Ohs returning to the stage after a brief hiatus I jumped at the opportunity to check out what new material they’d been working on. When I heard Curtis Harding was the headliner, I jumped even quicker. Despite not knowing much about the Atlanta resident until a few weeks ago, his undoubtedly genius debut record Soul Power and Black Lips collaboration Night Sun made it impossible not to take a ride on his up and coming bandwagon.
The room was half full as Fair Ohs took to the stage making me realise that I was probably one of the only people there who knew or cared about these guys. The threesome I was so previously used to, have developed into a four piece and stood awkwardly in front of the club’s infamous giant pink heart. It was the perfect backdrop for this goofy band and when they started playing, it was clear what a welcome addition the saxophone was. Bringing a new level to that tropical punk sound heard on their previous record Jungle Cats. In typical fashion Eddy (vocals/guitar) dished out banter between songs and demanded everyone move forward, they obliged and the energy level in the room immediately increased. The crowd appeared to have finally engaged.
Fair Ohs are not only musically exhilarating but great fun to watch. Their set featured all new songs that got me pumped for a looming new release as well as incredible dancing – shout out to their newest member who seductively gyrated with his saxophone throughout.
Harding and his band were the epitome of smooth. Initially his vocals, though warm with soulful tone, were too quiet to be deemed powerful. Unlike me, a drunken heckler decided to make her feelings known by openly complaining about her distaste for the sound. This clearly rubbed Harding the wrong way as he proceeded to give her an earful as well as starting a chant involving the crowd aimed against her. A few seconds of “come fix the sound” later and Curtis pulls the evening from the edge of chaos and proceeds to remind us why he’s been crowned the rising soul man. Steady percussion, bluesy guitar riffs and licks in tracks like ‘Drive My Car’ and personal favourite ‘Beautiful People’ show further evidence of that.
Talent was in abundance last Wednesday night. The kind of talent that can produce music influenced by a mixture of genres more diverse than Curtis and his band members. Yes, he is cool as fuck but his appeal is so much more than that. He is dripping with originality and authenticity that is not only evident in his style but in his gritty tunes and gripping stage presence.