REVIEW // Tony Allen and Amp Fiddler team up for an unforgettable night at Fiddlers

Afrobeat pioneer Tony Allen and Detroit funk soldier Amp Fiddler join forces for a lighter-than-expected jazzy affair at Fiddlers

Tony Allen and Amp Fiddler review

While Colston Hall undergoes a £45 million renovation, the team are continuing to bring world class musicians to Bristol, making use of some of city’s independent venues via their Colston Hall Presents programme. Earlier this month, it resulted in the booking of an eccentric duo at Bedminster’s Fiddlers in the form of Afrobeat pioneer Tony Allen and Detroit funk soldier Amp Fiddler. With both musicians sitting at quite different tables of musical ballroom, it was difficult to know what direction the show would take.

With both musicians sitting at quite different tables of musical ballroom, it was difficult to know what direction the show would take 

Bedminster’s well-kept secret, Fiddlers laid the foundations for an intimate show for world music aficionados, which at times made the evening feel like a private recording session. The combination of the exposed red brick jazz café style interior and Amp Fiddler’s intoxicating rapport with the crowd added to the living room style of the gig, which both sides of the stage seemed to relish. 

Amp Fiddler’s intoxicating rapport with the crowd added to the living room style of the gig

Tony Allen played the drums cooly throughout with self-nominated frontman Amp Fiddler on vocals and keys. The gig got off to an enthusiastic start with the combination of live afrobeat and funk combining into a lighter-than-expected jazzy affair. The strong R&B-esque vocals of Amp Fiddler with the tight knit drumming of a man who’s seen it all before and then seen it again included a huge dollop of improvisation much to the delight of the crowd.

An improvised acapella ensued, closing with Amp declaring ‘By the way, the monitor’s blown’ to the sound-man. Unfazed, he saw this as another great opportunity to bond with the audience with a sing along, before the chanting turned directly at the sound technicians. 

An improvised acapella ensued, closing with Amp declaring ‘By the way, the monitor’s blown’ to the sound-man

It wasn’t long until they were back on stage jamming songs such as a remix of Gregory Porter’s 1960 What. The combination of Amp Fidder’s energy was embodied by his frequent remarks to the Fiddlers crowd, whilst Tony Allen couldn’t put a foot, or hand, wrong.

After a good 90 mins of smoothness, the performers adjourned for the encore. For Amp Fiddler however, who is clearly in his element when on stage, it was only brief as he returned with the audience all for himself, declaring that the rest of the guys were ‘outside smoking something’. This was yet another break in the musical journey of the evening and an excuse for crowd interaction.

the highlight of the evening was a great rendition of Al Green’s Love and Happiness

For me, the highlight of the evening was a great rendition of Al Green’s Love and Happiness. The night ended with a vaguely legible speech from Tony Allen and a bow from the performers as if at the theatre, with the crowd mirroring the ‘much love’ vibe of the night. The top talent alongside the unexpected location made for a seriously special evening that won’t be forgotten in a hurry.

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