The Bees

By Serena Kutchinsky

Sunshine hit Shoreditch last Friday as The Bees trucked into town for a gig at London's supercool Cargo. For one night the often tricky venue became The Bees' hive – and you could tell – as a charged swarm of Bee lovers created an unusually idyllic pastoral counterbalance. What mattered here was jigging about, flailing wildly and grinning incessantly, the crowd's sooted underground stains lost to the glory of the Isle of Wight's most wonderous export.

A huge buzz has surrounded The Bees since the success of last summer’s debut album, Sunshine Hit Me: a swaying, laid back, sun-drenched journey wandering through funked up guitar rhythms, cheeky brasswork, lilting Beach Boy pop harmonies and uptempo Mariachi madness. The initial two man unit of Paul Butler and Aaron Fletcher has, live, transposed into a mature seven piece including rock solid dedication from ace trumpeter Tim Parkin and the soprano sax of James Nye, both doubling as doo-wap backing singers – a classic sight.

The Cargo crowd relished every minute of the mind-bending, bouncing performance that flitted hypnotically through funk, reggae, soul, samba, afrobeat, folk and sixties pop. Layers of loopy lyrics, herbally-assisted dubbed out basslines and a bubbling hammond continued to inject yet more frenzy into the troops. Crowd pleasers like the dreamy Punchbag and the ferociously funky cover of Os Mutantes' A Minha Menina triggered a stampede of head-bobbing, hip-shaking appreciation. The end of the set saw a sparkling glimpse of new material packed with heavy, percussive beats and jangly guitar edges edging towards a more Beatles-esque outlook. Any attempt above to categorise The Bees is, however, futile as Aaron Fletcher explains, “It's not a genre thing, it's not a style of music, it's a love of music and it's all types of music”.

Tired and drained the band rounded off the night with a radiant cover of Jackie Wilson's Motown classic Higher and Higher, the ecstatic crowd going wild one last time. Heads up to the Eat Your Own Ears boys who somehow, superbly managed to sustain the summertime vibe with a selection of soul and dirty funk classics progressively flowing into broken hip hop, glitch hop and sundry other Red Stripe-inspired chaos.
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