How do you make a trio sound like a big band, and rock a club? Berliners Dirty Honkers played at the Old Street club I went to last Saturday, and did just that. In midday tropical heat at midnight, they bust up the joint with artful screeches and an entertaining set which veered like an insane drunk driver between modern club and old time jazz swing.
Fronted by a sweaty and frankly confrontational Gad Hinkis, wearing a tie over his naked torso, a towel draped around his neck, MC-ing, singing and operating a laptop with aplomb, alongside the beautiful and freshly laundered Canadian Andrea Roberts, playing alto sax, singing, and unexpectedly joining the audience to strut her stuff, and Florent Mannant playing tenor sax, clarinet, adding his voice for harmonies, as well as flogging CDs, it was a hugely enjoyable, boiling hot performance. I bought their self-produced CD for a tenner and it’s as vital as anything in the genre.
Chris the promoter at the end of the night gave a joyous assertion that there’s a new electro swing club opening every week in Europe at the moment. Lots of good people were enjoying themselves hugely. I’ll certainly be returning.
Thus, I can reveal that Electro Swing is in fact more than music made by the bastard children of Mr Scruff. It takes the genre he spawned with the seminal Get A Move On – 20th century swing samples with 21st century beats – to new levels. Whether those levels are lower or higher I leave for posterity to judge. The chic retro sexiness of electro swing is an easy sell; without the musical mania of techno, and just a hint of rave creeping into the bleeps and beats to keep it exciting, the nostalgia plays it safe to the crowds.