August 30, 2011
Normally, when a band outnumber the audience it's a bad sign; but when I was outnumbered 11-1 by The Shuffle Collective - an ensemble containing some of London's top young performers - it wasn't a case of the band's worse nightmares coming true. The band had invited me to come and watch them rehearse at the Royal Academy (hence the casual dress code)
Featuring a fantastic horn section and three talented vocalists (two female and one male who switched between backing and lead vocals), the band is comprised of graduates of the top music schools and consequently, there were also few familiar faces to Sternberg Clarke in the form of vocalist Jess Berry, guitarist Billy Adamson and drummer (and former housemate of Ben Lloyd-Evans) John Ormston.
I was treated to a few songs from their modern repertoire including Beyonce's "Single Ladies", Mark Ronson's "Stop Me", Cee Lo Green's "Forget You" and "Umbrella" by Rhianna, all of which were slick and tight performances. Rhianna isn't particularly my cup of tea but seeing it performed with such passion and with the added power of the horn section provoked the most grudging of toe taps.
As this was a rehearsal, it was interesting to see band leader, Daniel, on sax, revisiting areas of songs to hone them to perfection. It was a great insight into the attention to detail with which the band lavish every song (and reassuring to a booking agent whose main concern is that they'll please corporate clients.)
They'd be a perfect choice for any large venue or massive audience and due to the energy and enthusiasm of the young band members, they'd be particularly suitable for 21sts of Bar/Bat Mitzvahs.