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Review: Herbie Hancock, The Sage Gateshead

SO, the much-anticipated return of Herbie, and which set were we going to get?

SO, the much-anticipated return of Herbie, and which set were we going to get?

A lesson in introspection or something closer to the funk-based set we saw in the same venue last year?

It was somewhere between the two.

Starting with Actual Proof from the Headhunters period, Hancock switched between piano and clavichord as young drummer Kendrick Scott gave a glimpse of the driving energy that makes him such a hot property.

Also joining Hancock were trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard, gifted guitarist Lionel Loueke and harmonica player Gregoire Maret. On bass was James Genus.

The centrepiece of their set was an extended version of a Loueke composition called 17 – named after the number of beats the players were required to count.

It was another example of the ridiculous level of musicianship we were witnessing, Scott’s solo a personal highlight.

Loueke was left on the stage by himself for a period to play one of his compositions which had me transfixed. He somehow creates layers of sound on just the one instrument, also using his voice to double up on the melody.

Hancock then had his turn in the spotlight as a soloist, his bandmates leaving the stage while he performed a mesmeric reworking of Dolphin Dance.

There were moments when, I have to admit, I zoned out. This was a night that demanded your full attention, six top musicians constantly interacting – it was like keeping up with six different conversations at a dinner table at times.

I left wanting to find myself a keytar and willing Hancock to return again next year – something he will surely do given the ovation ringing in his ears as his band said farewell.

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