Still going strong since their inception in 1979, the Punk, Funk, Ska, Rock, Jazz mash up that is Fishbone are playing at their regular London spot the Underworld in Camden. They’ve got a new 5 track EP entitled “Intrinsically Intertwined”, which could be a reference to the relationship between the three key members John Norwood Fisher on bass, “Dirty” Walt Kibby on vocals and trumpet, and Angelo Moore aka Dr. Madd Vibe on various saxophones and lead vocals.
They’ve always stood in the shadow of bands who cite them as influences like the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, No Doubt and Perry Farrell of Jane’s Addiction, but when they play live it’s easy to see why they’ve been going for thirty-five years. Fronted by Angelo, a cross between Iggy Pop and Louis Jordan, they power though their well known songs like “Sunless Saturday”, “Freddy’s Dead”, “Party At Ground Zero” and “Ma and Pa”. At one point they bring some fans onto the stage to dance, reminiscent of what The Specials used to do, and just like that band Fishbone like to erase that barrier between themselves and their fans who they refer to as “The Familyhood” due to their dedication throughout the years.
They also play one of my favourite Fishbone songs, “Everyday Sunshine”, a Pop/Soul hybrid that mutates into a Gospel freakout and true to form it gets the crowd going while band members and audience gleefully dive off the front of the stage. Despite all the leaping around, it’s obvious that this band can really play, with drummer John Steward and funky, loose bassist Norwood Fisher providing a firm bedrock for their multi-genre sound. Rocky George (previously in Suicidal Tendencies and Cro-Mags) unleashes fast and furious punky riffs that hold all the songs together, while the trombone and keyboards keep things funky.
Their songs, dealing with a combination of politics and partying, stems from them being a product of Los Angeles itself. From the occupying army that is the LAPD to the distinctions between Beverly Hills and South Central, they’re a definite product of their environment. An example of how to carry on doing what you do once you’ve been ignored by the mainstream, Fishbone worked out ages ago that you can keep going if you’re prepared to keep touring and that’s exactly what they’ve been doing all these years.
Definitely one of the best live bands around, not an easy thing to do so consistently for so many years.