It was the fourth day after the new moon, Wednesday, December 3rd. The air was crisp and the mist rolled through the hills like a silken canopy, encrusting the ground with star-kissed crystals of icy dew. The atmosphere echoed with the feeling that the earth felt ready to skank the eve away to the reverberations of ‘The Drop’, and skank it did, and skank we did… As I waved the outside goodbye and entered the warmth of the UEA, I couldn’t help but notice how empty the venue was. Sure, I was earlier than I usually am to a gig, but it just didn’t seem right, so off to the merch stand I went to check out the offerings. A little later the support came onstage, almost unnoticed, and still the venue was relatively empty. Aruba Red was her name, with the backing of an acoustic guitar and a man who was extremely adept at the cajon drum, her sound was an urban/tribal blend and her lyrics spoke of truth, unity and infinite love. She acquired the ears of many and demanded the attention of those who chose to stand in the preachers’ pit and gain lessons in the art of thought. I had not heard of her before this night, and I assure you, she is a worthy discovery for your ears to behold… And still the venue was relatively empty… By the time ‘The Drop’ came out on stage, my friend and I were on the front railings, this was exciting for me as with many gigs I have attended I have never once been right at the front. It felt strange though, narcissistically so, like everyone was watching us, but it would prove to beget the best feeling of the night… The horns arrived upon stage and opened the proceedings with that wonderfully soulful, easy skanking vibe Fat Freddy’s Drop are known and loved for, with Dobie Blaze’s (aka Iain Gordon) master keys skills and Jetlag Johnson’s (aka Tehimana Kerr) sweeping reggae riffs multiplying an already soul shakedown atmosphere tenfold and sending it skyward. The show started slowly, but a good slowly, like the moment you place a square of chocolate in your mouth, smooth, euphoric, right before you chow hard and split atoms, it was much like this. Joe Dukie’s soul resounding vocals topped off the yielding sensation that personified the first third of the night, which led to many closed eyes and gentle sways as every drop of the beat was felt and stored within ones bones, and savoured until the next beat hammered through the room. From chilled reggae moods, FFD turned into a raging torrent of dub electronica, which saw Dukie not only narrate lyrics from the front of stage, but also grab a guitar joining in with the transcendent cadence adding another depth of funk to their progressive dub/reggae/roots/soul/jazz/funk accord, and also throwing interludes behind the decks with extraordinaire DJ Fitchie (aka Mu, aka Chris Faiumu) pulling out some entwined loops and samples of his own voice to add to the mix. Throughout the first section of the show, the horn section have added a background ambience with small peeks of a solo and interjection, but as the beat hastens and the dub deepens, the horns take on a life of their own. With a constant performance by Scott Tower (aka Chopper Reedz) who never seems too comfortable in getting his groove on, be it his style or the intricacies of saxophone serenading, he still adds that extra timbre like a log to the fire throughout whilst Tony Laign (aka Tony Chang) brings a little more movement to the skank and bellows of interspersed trumpet goodness, but still, Chang pales in ‘shape and style’ insignificance to the smorgasbord of dance floor antics and trombone intermissions of the one and only Joe Lindsay (aka HoPepa). Taking nothing away from the greatness of every single one of the seven members of FFD, HoPepa adds that air of intrigue and funky fulfilment that makes FFD live performances a must see. With trombone precariously clenched in one hand, and feet seemingly hovering with the skank above a stage of dancing delight, he graces the audience with what I can only describe as interpretive dance of the jazzzzz variety. The guy is a machine, continuous shape pulling with intermittent horn blasting makes for a stage presence bestowed by Jah himself. At this stage I peer behind me for the first time, overcoming tactless vain visions of eyes focussed to the back of my head, and the venue is full… and everyone… EVERYONE… is jumping to the beat of Fat Freddy’s Drop. Like a tidal wave rising above the seabed, it broke above my head, and in this moment, I was happy. They say music and rhythm expand the third eye, my own rippled outward like a pebble thrown into a lake, euphoria… My friend explained how he felt like he was in another place, another time, I agree completely with his thoughts. The whole show saw fifteen-minute flowing medley’s interwoven with improvisational accentuations in true FFD style. Coming from a ten year background of mostly live performances, showing up and jamming the whole night away, the drop exert such flare in their musical proficiency that allows the audience to lose themselves from one recognisable fragment to another, effortlessly flowing in and out of album tracks and pure conjured melody. Inspiring to behold. Inspiring to be a part of… Back out into the frosty night air I still felt the beat driving my feet to skank down the path and into the night time darkness, where the only light around would be the reminiscence casting its flare into the distance and warming my soul to a sunshiny crisp. One of the most underrated and greatest live performers of the musical world today… I will take this opportunity also to give a shout out to FFD’s tour drummer Rikki Gooch, the dude’s an awesome beat maker/skin scraper… Lewis Gibbs… http://www.fatfreddysdrop.com/ http://www.myspace.com/fatfreddysdropnz