Kokomo/Matumbi, Roundhouse, London

Funky Music for the VATman

VatArticleIT ISN’T nostalgia that’s brought the erstwhile London funkster combo, soul supremos Kokomo together for this Class of ’76 reunion. It’s money, and necessity of raising same to repay a dirty great VAT demand. Ho-hum. Which isn’t to say we can’t have a little fun at the same time, and hordes of veteran Kokomo-ites turn up to turn the affair into a just-like-old times celebration (old times being pre-early ’77 when the band’s four-year career closed), roaring recognition for songs like “I’m Sorry Babe”, “It Ain’t Cool (To Be Cool No More)” and “Rise And Shine”.

Well into the spirit of the event are Kokomo themselves, up to full complement with a line-up of eight plus a few guests for good measure. The group’s antecedents include King Crimson and The Grease Band and to this day its individual members seem to crop up everywhere. Forming the front-line is the formidable vocal team of Dyan Birch, Paddy McHugh and Frank Collins (who scores with a powerful version of Aretha Franklin’s “With Everything I Feel”) while “Use Your Imagination” acts as a showcase for the instrumentalists, solos courtesy of Mel Collins on sax and Neil Hubbard on guitar. Secondary vocal duties fall to avuncular bassman Alan Spenner (“feeling 30, dirty and shirty” as he puts it) and piano-man Tony O’Malley, the latter leading “Any Time” and “Good To Be Alive”. It’s comfortable funk, slick to perfection, sweaty but immaculate. Not my cup of Horlicks, I’ll admit, but given the nature of the occasion any criticisms would be pointless, not to say churlish.

Paul du Noyer – N..M.E.