Coming from out of space, through another dimension, the Sun Ra Arkestra land in 24 Kitchen Street, and Getintothis’ Sinéad Nunes enjoys a cosmic experience.
Under the direction of 92 year old intergalactic space wizard Marshall Allen, a sequinned stream of musicians take to the stage; many of them octogenarians, the room is awash with hushed respect as these dignified icons assume their positions.
Last seen in Liverpool in 2013, when Allen performed at Mello Mello, its not since the legendary show at the Bluecoat in 1990 that this many of the band have been united in the city. And legends they are; you can’t help but bite your lip and stand on your tip toes to see the seated band members over the heads of the sold-out Kitchen Street crowd. Every glimpse feels precious, every note imbued with history.
These men have been instrumental in shaping contemporary jazz music, and their performance at Kitchen Street did not disappoint. Playing an assortment of their own “cosmic jazz” with vocals from Tara Middleton, mixed in with old jazz standards, the set paid tribute to the band’s discography as well as the players who shaped the way before them.
At various intervals throughout the night, members of the band sneaked off the side of the stage, only to appear amongst the audience in a processional saxophone journey. This lack of formality and delight in sharing the music by getting close to their fans is reflected right back at them; the excitement in the room was tangible as each song revealed a new layer to the band’s musical chops.
This was a special experience, from start to finish, and we still have smiles on our faces – whether that’s just from seeing a 93 year old play a saxophone with the energy of a teenager is beside the point. Don’t miss them if you ever get the chance.