Thundercat @ Invisible Wind Factory, Liverpool, 24 Mar
Stephen 'Thundercat' Bruner pretty much has everyone covered. If you like funk, soul, jazz or Daft Punk, he’s your man. This is no hyperbole, it shows: wall to wall, the Invisible Wind Factory is packed and heaving. The superstar bassist has sold out consecutive nights in Manchester and Liverpool; this by itself speaks volumes.
On latest album Drunk, songs tend to clock in at around the two minute mark; tonight they shapeshift into jams of epic proportions. It’s hard to fully explain the quality of his playing; 'just too good' will have to suffice. It makes for an immersive eyes-locked-on-the-stage-but-feet-definitely-moving type of show. And it’s not just the bass; his vocals are on the money too – in a high falsetto pitch, he’s as close as it gets to Marvin Gaye on Got To Give It Up (Part I). His band are also exceptional musicians, with his drummer in particular almost stealing the show with breakneck speed and polyglot rhythms.
The soft mewing of jazz love-in A Fan’s Mail (Tron Song Suite II) comes early on – 'Everybody wants to be a cat / It’s cool to be a cat,' purrs Bruner, and he's not wrong. Midway through, there’s a teaser of These Walls (his Grammy-award winning collaboration with Kendrick Lamar), which gets plenty of whoops and hollers, as does latest single Friend Zone, which drops towards the end of the set. Throughout, he has the audience in the palms of his very dextrous hands; watching someone so talented and so into their own performance is honestly a revelation.
We’re treated to a whole two hours of his weirdo funk genius. It’s an education in live music; a sound that's classic but not retro, and definitely future-oriented. The space age cavern of the Wind Factory is the perfect match for his futuro-funk; at one point, there are even lasers(!). Encoring with the Parliament-Funkadelic-inflected O Sheit It’s X, there can’t be a soul in the building who’s not grooving along.