Cory Wong is a freak of nature. There is no more appropriate way to phrase it.
Through a blistering hour and a half, Cory and his 6-piece band unleashed a funk filled set that left everyone in attendance bathing in admiration at the skills put on display.
Hailing from Minneapolis, Minnesota, Cory Wong has become a cult hero in the world of new age funk, thanks to both collaborations with bands such as Vulfpeck, Antuan Stanley and Ben Rector, and his humour both on stage and off.
Opening the set with Lunchtime and an upbeat and full band rendition of Introduction to the Fearless Flyers, Cory and his band put out a statement of intent for the gig. It was accompanied by an opening monologue from Cory. Highlighting the mix of people in the audience, poking fun at music students in the crowd analysing every bit of the equipment on stage (accompanying me to the gig was a music student, which made it extra fun for me!)
The set list spanned a whole collection of Cory’s music, with tracks from his latest album, The Optimist, including the sensationally groovy Jax which was impossible not to dance through. He ventured back to some of his older tracks, including a crowd favourite Clouds, which at first had me curious to see how a six-piece funk band was going to pull off a more orchestral song. The answer was (of course) to project a clip of Jurassic Park on stage, causing the audience to go absolutely wild for two minutes. More Jurassic Park at gigs please!
Cory’s loose wrist makes for a modern day Nile Rodgers sound, but watching it in person is hypnotic. The free flowing, low volume funk, made every song stand out. Everything from the faces he pulled, his enigmatic poses whilst diving into a Hendrix-esque solo, made Cory an unstoppable force on stage.
It was easy to fall in love with the ease in which a song started. With a simple “2,3”, all of a sudden the band were playing a track that had everyone in the packed nightclub bopping, grooving and moving.
The band were gifted with their chance to shine out. A special shout out to bass player Seth Tackaberry, who was also a BBC Young Jazz Musician of the Year finalist this year. His constant groove kept the show moving, and every solo opportunity gifted he shone bright.
Funk filled, talent on the stage to make any audience member wide eyed, and marvelously groovy, if you are presented with a chance to witness Cory Wong live do it.
By Iain Leggat