I’m glad Fishbone are still around. They first formed 30 years ago in Los Angeles and were part of the scene that also spawned the Red Hot Chili Peppers. They could have so easily disappeared but their commitment to continual touring and their phenomenal, energetic live shows has secured them a lot of fans. I think they’re easily one of the best live bands around, good on vinyl – brilliant in the flesh. Plus they were playing their own brand of funk, punk, rock, jazz, ska, reggae and metal long before it was popular to do so.
They’ve gone through several line up changes however, and have also been dropped from a couple of major labels in the past. It’s the constant touring that has kept them going and I’ve been going to see them for the last 20 years. Out of this line up, Angelo Moore (vocals, various saxes, theremin) and Norwood Fisher (funky 5-string bass and vocals) are the two original Fishbone soldiers. Both look as young as when they first started, although Norwood has a little grey in his goatee these days. 🙂
That’s not to say the rest of the band aren’t great musicians too. Rocky George has some blistering guitar solos and sounds ultra heavy on some of the songs. John Steward is a powerful, rock solid drummer who is both loud and funky, effortlessly playing the different styles that Fishbone songs mutate into. John McKnight is rock solid on guitar, vocals, keyboard AND that funky trombone, sounding like he could give Fred Wesley a run for his money.
It’s a blistering set with a lot of crowd surfing from the audience and the band. At one point Dre Gipson, the keyboard player and additional vocalist stands right at the edge of the stage and manages to do a front flip into the crowd where he gleefully surfs across the dancefloor before being deposited back onto the stage. There’s a lot of their uptempo, funky and crowd pleasing songs played tonight. Stand out tracks for me were “Bonin’ in the Boneyard”, their cover version of the Sublime classic “Date Rape”, “Party At Ground Zero”, the Curtis Mayfield classic “Freddie’s Dead” that they play for an encore and “Chim Chim’s Badass Revenge” (from the 1996 album of the same name) which they said they haven’t played for a good long while. It still sounds good and makes me realise that I need to listen to this underrated album again really soon.
Uptempo, dynamic shows like this are what gigging is all about. Fishbone have always been great live and at the root of their shows is a firm belief in dancing, going nuts and involving their audience. The march of the Fishbone soldiers continues. 🙂
For those that don’t know, there’s a documentary being made about Fishbone called “Everyday Sunshine” and you can contribute to this film either financially or by sending in Fishbone memorabilia. Check out http://www.fishbonedocumentary.com/ for more info.