LIVE REVIEW: Incognito at Meltdown Festival, Southbank Centre

LIVE REVIEW: Incognito at Meltdown Festival, Southbank Centre
Credit: Pete Woodhead

The beloved Southbank Centre Meltdown annual festival has returned, featuring a lineup that includes the iconic acid jazz band Incognito, celebrating their 45th anniversary. Cofounder Jean-Paul “Bluey” Maunick leads the band, whose illustrious career spans even further back, including a memorable appearance on Top of the Pops.

While Incognito has always been a pioneering force with its original material, its 1991 cover of Ronnie Laws’ “Always There” catapulted it to household name status. Despite their acclaim, it was intriguing to hear Bluey welcome “virgins and non-virgins” to this Meltdown Festival gig, as for many, it was their first live experience with Incognito.

LIVE REVIEW: Incognito at Meltdown Festival, Southbank Centre
Credit: Pete Woodhead

With a dynamic 13-piece ensemble, occasionally expanding to 14, the band delivered a rich tapestry of sound from the outset. Their signature blend of funk and jazz was elevated by a brass section that not only impressed musically but also with slick dance moves. Bluey, dressed in black with a plain baseball cap, showcased his guitar prowess while guiding the band through a set infused with influences from the Brand New Heavies and Jamiroquai, as well as classic elements reminiscent of Diana Ross and Barry White, keeping the audience engaged and participative.

Bluey’s inspiring leadership was evident throughout the performance. He shone in his solos and provided ample opportunities for each band member to showcase their talents. The concert featured a wide array of solos, including guitar, bass, brass, drums, percussion, and even organ solos, each of which brought the audience to their feet.

LIVE REVIEW: Incognito at Meltdown Festival, Southbank Centre
Credit: Pete Woodhead

Standout performances included “Deep Waters,” a poignant piece that evoked bittersweet memories, enhanced by medleys of classics like George Michael’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me” and Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got to Do with It.” “Still a Friend of Mine” proved to be on par with Jamiroquai’s “Too Young to Die,” while “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing” had the crowd singing along without prompting.

LIVE REVIEW: Incognito at Meltdown Festival, Southbank Centre
Credit: Pete Woodhead

From the moment they stepped on stage, Bluey and Incognito used their music as a force for good, a guiding mantra throughout Bluey’s career. He expressed gratitude for the audience’s shared commitment to this ethos. Another notable moment was Bluey’s call for unity in a “broken world,” culminating in a heartfelt finale where he took selfies with the band and audience as Bob Marley’s “One Love” played.

LIVE REVIEW: Incognito at Meltdown Festival, Southbank Centre
Credit: Pete Woodhead

Despite their impressive live performance, Incognito might not receive the social media recognition they deserve due to their refusal to align with a single perspective. Nonetheless, both Incognito and Chaka Khan, this year’s Meltdown curator, deserve immense credit for adding such a memorable act to the lineup.

 

Xsnoize Author
Michael Barron 352 Articles
Michael first began writing whilst studying at university; reviewing the latest releases and live gigs. He has since contributed to the Fortean Times as well as other publications. Michael’s musical tastes vary from Indie to psychedelic, folk and dubstep.

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