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Friday, 18 April 2014

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Just loopy about Joe

GIG REVIEW: Joe Driscoll Saturday, May 12 Sanctuary, Barrow

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SOLO STAR: Joe Driscoll

THERE was a time when the term ‘one man band’ meant a crusty, bearded old bloke in a stripy suit, stood on Blackpool promenade with cymbals strapped to his knees and a harmonica strapped to his head, strumming a banjo.

Joe Driscoll is almost the polar opposite.

Casually dressed in joggers and a vest, he took to the stage just one man and a mic.

After addressing the criminally-undersized crowd – who had already enjoyed well-judged sets from local hip hop duo Cyril Sneer and Spoovoy, and DJ Jamie Graham – in his thick New York brogue, he introduced his concept of ‘live looping’ and launched straight into his first number.

Beatboxing in itself is an art form, tricky to master and even trickier to make interesting and varied.

Where Driscoll takes it to new heights is in utilising a loop pedal to record the beat and keep it going, then layering vocals and various instruments on top to create an impressive full-band sound.

As soon as he picked up the guitar, the opener quickly revealed itself to be a modern take on Sister Sledge’s We Are Family.

Based in the UK, and a regular at festivals up and down the country, it is easy to see why Driscoll is being hailed a phenomenon. Nobody else is doing this – maybe nobody else can?

What is most impressive though, is the way he makes it look so easy as he throws a tambourine or a melodion into the mix. There’s even some beatbox harmonica, which shouldn’t even be possible.

The majority of his hour-and-a-half set was made up of material from his four studio albums, which features a distinctive laidback rapping style reminiscent of West Coast acts like Sublime and Long Beach Dub Allstars.

The biggest cheers of the night, however, were reserved for a reworking of The Jackson 5’s I Want You Back and a mind-blowing version of Hendrix’s Voodoo Child.

Anyone in attendance couldn’t fail to have been won over, but it felt more like an opportunity missed for those who stayed away.

KARL STEEL

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