Cory Henry & The Funk Apostles At The Sugar Club – Review
Brooklyn Organist and pianist Cory Henry is perhaps best known for his residency with fusion supergroup Snarky Puppy. Famous for his bewilderingly fast and gospel influenced style of playing, he is surely recognised as one of the finest musicians alive. Now working with his own group on his solo material, a show in The Sugar Club is expected to be nothing less than funkadelic.
Bringing with him a five piece band featuring two, yes TWO drummers, the groovy vibes are established effectively immediately. Singing organ synthesisers and bouncing baselines akimbo, the front of the stage is engulfed in punters that don’t feel like sitting. Who can blame them? It’s nigh impossible not to be sucked into the hip hop tinged neo-soul on offer.
Henry’s onstage demeanour is boisterous, and would be too much if not justified by the outrageous solo sections he takes on the likes of ‘What a Friend’. Jumping around the stage like a soul preacher, he gets up close and personal with the crowd, joining them for a wee dance during several of his bandmates’ solos.
The high point of the set comes via a modern take on Duke Ellington’s 1937 masterpiece, ‘Caravan’. The classic big band approach now replaced by a backbeat driven synth jam, the energy is taken up a peg. Henry’s organ solo here is superior to anything he’s played thus far, and clearly starts to hit his stride. Keeping things big and energetic, another classic is modernised and synthesised in the form of Prince’s ‘1999’. Delivered in a rather epic and grand fashion, Cory takes lead vocals on this one through a robotic vocoder. With big crescendos and overcooked licks left right and centre, it’s a tad indulgent, but still a nice homage to the original.
Now closing the set, more crowd involvement ensues with some charming call and response ‘Hell Yeah’ chants. It’s a tad corny, but it works. More effortless improvisational soloing and explosive beats close the show, everyone now losing what little restraint they had to manically dance. While not quite hitting the godlike levels of performance he has been known for, Henry and his Funk Apostles have succeeded in making Dublin a funkier place, which is never a bad thing.