Northcote Social club got funky on Thursday night as The Cactus Channel launched their second album Wooden Boy. The first of two shows, they were supported by The PutBacks and The Seven Ups and it was a fantastic night of smooth grooves and awesome horns.

Setting the mood for the evening, The Seven Ups got the crowd moving with their incredible afro funk stylings. The 8 piece opened up the show with 45 minutes of grooves and solos, with the horn section of Kelly O’Donohue, Jay Scarlett and Harry Cooper showing off their skills of improvisation and keeping the audience entertained while the rhythm section kept everything exceptionally tight. Guitarist Trent Sterling admitted they didn’t much like vocals but still tried to get the audience to singalong with a cover of Sly & The Family Stone’s ‘Underdog’. Despite there only being one lyric in their version, the crowd seemed to need a few more drinks to get into it.

The PutBacks opened their set with the sweet sound of Simon Mavin’s Hammond, their lashings of Stax influence incredibly obvious in their music. Their old school funk and soul songs were brilliantly arranged and had a feel very much along the lines of The Meters or Booker T and the MGs. They did perform a brilliant and faithful cover of Booker T’s ‘Time is Tight’, and with closed eyes, you might have thought Steve Cropper and Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn were up on stage instead of Tom Martin and Mick Meagher on guitar and bass respectively. For me though, The Seven Ups took the limelight again, going beyond the call of duty as the support band and getting very into it up the front of the dancefloor.

Opening with new songs ‘How Did This Happen?’ followed by ‘Wooden Boy Pt. 3′, The Cactus Channel proved without doubt that their sophomore effort has just as much swagger as their first album. The crowd response was instantaneous, grooving along as Henry Jenkins strutted the basslines while the 5 piece horn section lay their funk over the top. Daniel Sutton’s cowbell solo was a bit of a highlight early in the set before crowd favourite ‘Emanuel Ciccolini’ descended the first few rows into an unbridled ruckus that only calmed down with the end of the show. The set was a great mix of new and old tracks, and I’m sure the entire crowd loved every second, I sure did. If you haven’t seen or heard The Cactus Channel before, I strongly suggest you do so very soon.

Lee Snipes

FULL GALLERY HERE

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