The Hackney Colliery Band have been urging their fans to unexpect the expected from the beginning. Yes, they are a brass band. No, you probably won’t hear them play Morning Has Broken.
The Hackney Colliery Band have all the right ingredients – they have just mixed them up and produced something other than your usual recipe. Trumpets, sax, trombones, marching percussion, sousaphone – it’s all there, but the sounds pealing out seem eerily like hip hop, R’n’B and drum and bass classics.
The band was borne “out of a desire to play music that appealed to the feet as much as the ears”, and Monday night’s single launch at Sutton House had my feet in a joyous mood. Their covers of songs such as Alicia Keys ‘New York’ and Blackstreet’s ‘No Diggity’ have put them on the map, and the energy of their performances have kept them there.
The venue was National Trust protected Sutton House on Homerton High Street; the occasion was the launch of their new single – a spectacular brass version of Goldie’s Inner City Life; and on the menu were sausages made as an homage to the band, courtesy of ‘pork wizards’ Glampig.
As HCB themselves put it: “Now a lot of bands have their own T shirts, tote bags, mugs and caps. Some even have their own shower curtain. But we have our own sausages.”
Glampig’s Jim Duncombe said of the origins of the Hackney Colliery Band banger – “I have taken inspiration from the origins of colliery bands, the food of mines and the vibrant food culture of Hackney to create a sausage just for you”
And what a sausage it was! After wiping away half a bottle of spilled hot English mustard with a napkin, I can safely say that Glampig’s banger was fresh, tasty, and packed full of flavour.
The venue blew the collective mind of everyone attending – a Tudor manor that has had its oak floorboards trod by Henry VIII, 1980s ravers, and now bopping Hackneyites, shuffling their feet to frenetic drums and soaring sax.
The leafy courtyards were the perfect spot to kick back in the sun with a hoppy ale from The Five Points Brewing Company, before heading into the heritage-rich building for the main event.
Maybe being in such illustrious surroundings had everyone on their best behaviour, but as the band fired up there was much polite toe tapping and sedate head nodding – a more reserved scene than the majority of their gigs.
They roared through a collection of tracks from the new album, each one guaranteed to plaster a sloppy smile over the most sunburned, heat-stroked face; and as they started ripping into classics from their back catalogue, the assembled audience forgot their manners and the real dancing began.
We waved the Tudor court goodbye and said hello to the 80’s glo-sticks, stomping and bouncing to brilliant song after brilliant song. From sousaphone player Jeff Miller’s infectious bop to Steve Pretty and Nick Ashwood’s searing trumpets; all underlined with Luke Christie’s feverishly wild drumming – the band have pulled together some phenomenal talent, each member at the pinnacle of their game.
The covers never fail to get everyone excited – but their original tracks are just as noteworthy. Hitched is just brilliant – fun and frenzied, the pace lets up just enough for you to catch your breath and then plunges on again.
Their Alicia Keys cover had us swaying and singing along; No Diggity had the crowd pumping, and their final track – a raucous medley of Prodigy covers – had every arm in the air. Veering from Jericho to Out of Space; No Good and back again, it’s a medley everyone should listen to at least 55 times.
As one of the band’s trumpet players, Steve Pretty, announced, “we’re launching our new brass version of a drum n bass classic by cooking our own brand sausages at a Grade II-listed ex squat Tudor manor house in the middle of Hackney.We never said it’d be straightforward being an HCB fan. Just that it’d be fun.”