Incognito back on stage in London after two years

An absolutely very good opportunity for fans of British Jazzfunkateers Incognito to attend a gig of the band for the first time in two years. London’s Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club was the place to be and without hesitation, even though the situation on Covid-19 had still not improved too much, many people didn’t care anymore. From all over the world people flew to London, even though the Japanese government required six days mandatory quarantine after a trip, people from Japan attended the gig.

Anyway, Incognito’s gigs at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club were the first ones in two years for both members and the fans due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The last gigs I had attended myself were in the Blue Note in Milan in February 2020, just before the pandemic and yes, that had already passed two years. We did not believe that we would not be able to see them for such a long time at that time. These gigs in the Milan tour followed the Japanese tour and their 40th-anniversary concert at the Indigo at the O2 in London in December 2019. After that concert, they stopped live performing, and fans could only listen to their music via streaming of the albums the band released.

But finally, Ronnie Scott’s presented 12 sets of Incognito’s gigs in 6-days and those gigs were sold out shortly after booking began last October. Many fans missed their live music and Incognito so much. These gigs were performed by great musicians, mostly regular band members, while the vocalists changed during this period. Natalie Williams was the lead vocalist of some songs in their album “Surreal” and took part in the world tour at that time, and she has been regularly performing at Ronnie Scott’s with her own band Soul Family. In addition, Charlie Allen participated as a lead guitarist and of course the amazing Jean-Paul ‘Bluey’ Maunick on guitar. And as usual with Incognito, different dates mean different artists, like singers Natalie Williams (all dates), Imaani (27th – 29th), Chris Ballin (27th – 30th), Vanessa Haynes (30th – 1st) and Tony Momrelle (31st – 1st Feb). And the band, consisting of Matt Cooper (MD, keys), Francis Hylton (bass), Francesco Mendolia (drums), Joao Caetano (percussion), Charlie Allen (lead guitar), Sid Gauld (trumpet), Patrick Clahar (sax, flute), Alistair White (trombone) and Megan Khan (backing vocals) were all there all week.

Beginning with the first song of the gig, an instrumental “Parisian Girl” started, and the vocalists joined on the stage for the famous “Don’t You Worry `Bout A Thing” – their representative song – and the audience was fascinated immediately. Natalie Williams sang “Above the Night” from the album “Surreal” in which she appeared wearing space suits in the music video. Depending on the setlist, Bluey sang the system’s song of yesteryear “You Are In My System” which you can see on YouTube. Tony Momrelle sang “Close My Eyes” from their album “Adventures in Black Sunshine” in 2004. Of course, “Colibri” as their masterpiece was performed and the audience was so euphoric with this song itself and its bass solo, keyboard solo and co-performing with drums and percussion.

In the second half, the audience was even more excited by the duet song “Still A Friend of Mine” and the up-tempo song “I Hear Your Name”. Finally Bluey said ‘It’s party time!” and he urged the audience to stand up again and dance. “Always There” started and a packed Ronnie Scott’s sang the chorus part together. The moment the final song “Nights Over Egypt” (originally by The Jones Girls) started, and almost all the audience was dancing and jumping, the excitement in the venue became at its peak.

The song finished when Bluey said “London, make some noise!!….This is the UK I belong to and I love!!” and ended with his conventional phrases “Beyond Color, Beyond Creed, We are one nation under a groove!! One Love!!” and it echoed on and on in the venue. The audience was still excited after the gig and I myself felt so happy to attend such memorable nights all the way from Japan. The band moved on
to Milan for 5 days and 10 sets at the Blue Note Milano during their first European tour in two years. Fans all over the world will be really looking forward to their gigs.

Photo’s (c) 西田徹 (Toru Nishida)

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