Is there a band that offers a more musical, uplifting, joyful night out at the moment than the Indications?
Amidst the skill and beauty of their soulful joyous performance, I glanced across to my left. The woman next to me, who I didn’t know, was sat perched on the edge of her seat. Her hands were clasped together and she looked for all the world like those shots of teenage girls back in the day, presented with the Beatles, the Stones or even the Bay City Rollers. She was enraptured and bewitched by the band, hanging on their every move, harmony and groove. Honour prevents me from disclosing her approximate age, suffice to say she was old enough to have outgrown such teenage infatuation.
Our second visit to Nile Rodgers’ 2019 Meltdown, followed Sunday’s Thundercat & Onyx Collective gig offered as much to admire but even more to love. We saw the Indications back at the start of the year at a Rough Trade in-store and their second studio album, American Love Call has been our most listened LP of 2019. Whilst some of the newer songs were a little tentative back in January, they are now well-honed.
What hasn’t changed is the extraordinary experience that the band offer live. The vocal harmonies provided by Durand, drummer Aaron Frazer and keyboard player Steve Okonski are a pure delight. Bass player Kyle Haupt locks the groove down and Blake Rhein can offer Steve Cropper sharp rhythm playing or Ernie Isley lead lines. Whilst the sum of the parts is great, the soulful whole is even better. The stylistic range they offer within the R’n’B genre is incredible, from sweet harmonic bliss through to hot stepping funk, all of them nailed.
We got some unexpected treats. The deep cut After All The Lies followed a pitch-perfect version of Curtis Mayfield’s (Don’t Worry) If There’s A Hell Below, We’re All Going To Go. The encore was a soulful rendition of the Fab Four’s Don’t Let Me Down. American Love Call’s highlights got an airing. The protests of Morning In America referenced Trump’s divisive presidency and the recent shootings in El Paso and Dayton. Sea Gets Hotter emerged from the shadows of Love Call to capture the essence of summer.
Yet again the two lead vocalists stole the show. Fraser’s leads on Court of Love and Is It Any Wonder reinforce both the beauty of his falsetto and the rubbing tummy/patting head of drumming and singing simultaneously. He’s got some skills.
But Durand is front and centre. You can’t take your eyes off of him. With a hankie in his back pocket, mopping the sweat off of his fevered brow, dapper in a pair of high-waisted trousers and Gatsby-style tan and white brogues, he was the sharpest dressed man on the Southbank. As at the Rough Trade show, Can’t Keep My Cool from the debut album was literally the show stopper, the extended breaks in the song heightening the drama as the QEH waited in silence for Durand’s old school testifying. It really is a sight to be seen in 2019, your mind wandering back to how audiences must have been electrified in the 60s by James Brown, Otis Redding and all of their contemporaries.
He’s charming and humble too, relaying stories of how he looked after his ailing grandmother whilst she encouraged him to pursue his career. The whole package adds up to a 2019 update on a good old fashioned night out.
The band are back in the UK in the autumn. Guess what – we’re going again (third time this year). I’ve got one vain hope. I was chatting with the band after the Rough Trade gig and they revealed a desire to tour with a wider line-up – horns and strings.
Now wouldn’t that be a treat?