Chris Pickering Reviews Voodoo Trombone Quartet, Vibe Bar

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Gig Review – Voodoo Trombone Quartet, Vibe Bar


You may not have heard of Paul Thorpe – but there’s a good chance you’ll have heard his music. His creations have been used as the theme tunes for MTV’s The Paper, Nemone’s slot on BBC 6Music and Radio 4’s The Thing Show. If that wasn’t enough, they have also featured on Ugly Betty, Radio 5’s sports programs and, somewhat curiously, Davina McCall’s pre and post natal work out videos.

In between writing football anthems and penning the groove for reality TV presenters to shake their baby-bump to, Paul takes his music on the road under the guise of the Voodoo Trombone Quartet. The name isn’t strictly representational as there in fact are eight of them in the live line up – only one of which actually plays the trombone. The voodoo magic, however, was definitely in evidence during their recent gig at the Vibe Bar on Brick Lane.

Now comes the point in the review I’m quietly dreading. You, the reader, naturally want to find out what their music is like and this genre-defying lot are posing somewhat of a problem for me. I could use the term ‘funk tinged ska-reggae’ or possibly ‘downtempo lounge’… maybe, for that matter, ‘dub-infused chillout music’. All would be relevant, but none quite capture the full scope of their performance. However you choose to classify it, the atmospheric interior of Vibe Bar suited ‘VTQ’down to the ground.

As the opener ‘Voodoo Trombones’ began and the audience relaxed in the comfortably hip surroundings, heads began to nod and fingers began to tap amongst the sofas. As the tempo rose slightly with the likes of ‘Medium Wave’ (fresh from MTV) and the infectious ska-tinged beats of ‘The Phantom’, feet began to join in with the movement. Before long, those closest to the stage were up and dancing.

It wasn’t just the audience either. You get a real sense that VTQ have fun on stage and it’s a feeling that inevitably passes to the crowd. This was fortunate as – you guessed it – crowd participation time loomed. Chants of “Voodoo Hoohaa! Trombone Hoohaa!” delivered with a suitably tribal enthusiasm, rung across the room accompanying ‘Monster Island’. To follow, their excellent cover of ‘Overload’ sounded better than it ever did in the hands of The Sugababes and ‘Voodoo Juju’ (made famous by Ugly Betty) rounded off the set.

It seems this band have the rare ability to deliver a polished, yet spontaneous performance. At their core lie some of the most infectious beats around; added to which you have chilled vocals, soulful horn melodies and some great reggae guitar riffs. It all comes together – with the help of a little voodoo – to create a superb live show.

This gig was yet another resounding success for the London-based octet who are once again hitting the festival circuit this summer. Shortly they’ll be heading off to Brighton Fringe festival and contemplating a welcome return to Glastonbury. There’s also a new album due to be released later this year and other gigs in the pipeline. It seems like we’ll be hearing a lot more of the Voodoo Trombone Quartet and based on this gig, that can only be a good thing.

You can find out more about the Voodoo Trombone Quartet at:

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