Contest was the making of the contemporary brass band. As was the case in the mid-nineteenth century, when the troupes of metalworkers, railwaymen and collieries locked horns; competition today is fierce and only the cream of the crop can rise to the top. Hackney Colliery Band may have a name that appears to be steeped in tradition, but they’re in fact latter-day brass-hoppers bringing the ensemble sound into fresh perspective, with funk and jazz feeling and a cutting edge hip-hop, pop and electronica-laden repertoire. They’re among the best at what they do, BBC Radio 2 call them ‘one of the greatest live bands…in this country’ and they’ve taken their sound further afield than many of the brass bands of old were able to take theirs. Festival crowds, even Olympic crowds, have been at their mercy and they’ve worked diligently to achieve the notoriety they now have.
Where they differ from some of today’s brass ensembles is in their restraint. Taking their forthcoming live album, released later this week, as a paradigm for their shows; it demonstrates how the group are able to tone things down, explore shades of blue and regions of freedom, between the moments of streamlined, hook-laden insistence. It’s no false economy, as the strength they save is driven into the sharpest crescendos and most impactful choruses they could muster. A pensive original number may precede a foot-stomping Blackstreet cover, or a funky piece originally realised with synths and drum machines. Every gig is a carnival, with funk and New Orleans-style soul at it’s heart, and you’re sure to appreciate that when you see their next Band on the Wall show, on 16th June
Find out more about their new live album below and be sure to get your hands on a pre-order.