Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Shuffle on tour at Rogue and Vagabond

Easter weekend didn’t really pan out as I would have liked. The first plan went pretty much as expected (I made an effort to be slightly more social and enjoyed the night that ended listening to slightly drunken renditions country tunes). The second fell through and its replacement never got off the ground. By the time I remembered that Shuffle were playing in Whanganui on Sunday night, it was too late for me to make the gig. Thankfully they were playing the following night in Wellington, so I braved the end of Easter traffic as far as the train station and bookended the weekend with brief trips to the city.

Shuffle - Roger Manins (saxophone) Ron Samsom (drums) Michel Bénébig (organ) and Neil Watson in place of Carl Lockett(guitar) - were touring in support of the newly released, self-titled album on Rattle Records.
Roger Manins; New Zealand Jazz

“B.B. Gun” was a  nice slinky opener for an Easter Monday. Perhaps it was a little too relaxed, but the high energy “Beep” kicked the crowd into action. Feet were tapping, heads bobbing, some swaying, and plenty of smiles. It remained that way for the rest of the night. There was plenty of swank during “Big Leg Shuffle” as everyone hit their stride. Bénébig found the deep pocket as he opened his solo. And through this solo he kept tapping back into it. It fed the band and Watson really dug in too for a fine solo. I thought Roger was perhaps a little tame earlier in the set but became increasingly unhinged (in a good way!) throughout.

Roger’s between tune banter can be a little off the wall, and his mid-solo-cadenza shout out to Rogue sound man (and all-round nice guy) Chris was a classic. A compilation of these with the context removed would be bizarrely entertaining (hidden track on your next album Rog?).

“Gout Foot Shuffle” kicked off the second set with Bénébig playing another fine solo with a really happy feel to it. Throughout the night I’d catch myself getting drawn in to his hypnotic feet working the pedal board. Watson hit the deep pocket in “Dog Funk Walking” while Roger moved from laid back and sub-toning into some classic blues honking and wailing. They rounded out the night with the mellower (in comparison) “Hungry Pig Shuffle”. 

Two sets of shuffles is about all I can take but the infectious feel, good grooves and high energy end to the long weekend could make returning to the grind tough going. It’s an extra short week so I guess I’ll manage.

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