Get The Blessing @ The Lantern, Bristol, 13/09/2015

Get the BlessingHidden away within the Colston Hall, a smaller gig room known as The Lantern exists for its more intimate bookings. Under hazy purple lights, masters of experimental jazz rock Get The Blessing return to Bristol tonight, for the official launch party of their hotly anticipated new album, Astronautilus.

Denying The Lantern’s stage of its sole purpose, the band instead choose to erect their own, smaller stage in the middle of the room. The venue soon fills up with people who gather along the walls of the wide room, with a perfect view of the new stage. But, like many jazz gigs, a large portion of the audience opt for sitting down at tables and even on the carpet, beverages in hand as if it's some kind of indoor festival.

Tonight’s support comes from the wonderfully weird SJ Esau - aka Sam Wisternoff, aided by live drummer Sean Talbot. Using live-looping pedals and a table’s worth of noise boxes, SJ Esau craft cacophonous, yet often beautiful soundscapes. Wisternoff’s delicate vocals add a more human element, but it’s his imaginative use of sampling that creates their unique sound. The songs are abstract but compelling, like an avant-garde Alt-J but far more entertaining.

However, this is Get The Blessing’s show, and as the band tear into opener “Phaenomena” it’s clear they’re determined not to be upstaged. Exhibiting Astronautilus live in full for the first time, the band exert themselves on top form, and not a note is played out of place (unless of course it’s part of an atonal trumpet or sax solo). Gone are the orange cellophane head wear from their press photos, but what remains is an incredibly dense and stimulating performance.

New album highlights “Conch” and “Green Herring” establish Get The Blessing as brooding musical powerhouses, reveling in influences from hip hop to psychedelic rock. But this being predominantly jazz, all four members (drummer Clive Deamer, saxophonist Jake McMurchie, trumpeter Pete Judge and bassist Jim Barr) frequently delve into hypnotic jam passages - the songs themselves consisting of strong improvisation.

It’s testimony to the band’s ability that the audience are willing to sit through 90 minutes of instrumental jazz, mesmerised by the musicianship at hand. The astonishingly tight rhythm section of Deamer and Barr draw parallels to that of John Bonham and John Paul Jones. Deamer, despite having played for everyone from Robert Plant to Radiohead and Roni Size, must surely be the UK’s most underrated drummer.

Encouraging the audience to clap along is pretty much standard at any rock gig, but it’s unusual to see an audience clap solidly, in time, for an entire song. The audience’s participation here creates the rhythm track to crowd pleaser “OCDC”, one of the evening’s highest points.

Aided by psychedelic projections from John Minton throughout, Get The Blessing’s set moves back and forth between mellow to intense, but it’s never indulgent. What makes Get The Blessing such a formidable live act is that their music, no matter how obscure, never fails to entertain. The audience remain enthralled throughout, the accessibility of their music being the key.

Friends and family present, tonight’s audience range from a wide demographic, and it’s the melting pot of genres here that causes such crossover appeal. Some may even say that this has always been a factor in Bristol's live music scene, and the warm reception from tonight’s open-minded crowd goes to show how far a band brimming with new ideas can go.


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