Monday, February 13, 2012
George Barnett & The Ninth Wave @ The Yardbird, Sunday 12th February
At 6ft 3 (with an unruly mop of curly brown hair adding an extra inch or two) and a ceiling that’s probably not much taller, bouncing up and down might not be the wisest thing to attempt. Somehow the hair’s owner manages to avoid serious brain damage though, even if members of the audience end the set risking their own craniums by quite literally dancing on the tables. Welcome to the world of George Barnett, a 17 year old multi instrumentalist, vocalist and producer recently described by Beardyman as “one talented muthafucka”...and he should know. Given his capacity for playing pretty much every instrument ever invented George (winner of Young Drummer of the Year way back in 2008) and his band take a similarly catholic approach to musical genres, deftly embracing everything from blues rock to piano ballads, ska, boogie woogie...sometimes in the same track. Of course all this could end up sounding like a dog’s dinner, that it doesn’t is down to George’s seemingly instinctive knack for just knowing what works.
The set kicked off with Lone Rose (from his forthcoming album 17 days), one of those tracks that lodges itself inside your brain the first time you hear it, possessing the kind of singalong chorus that screams ‘hit’! Just to prove to the crowd that it ain’t a fluke it’s followed by College Kids, Hendrix meets T Rex meets a genuine 21st century boy...all suitably pissed off with the world he’s been lumbered with. University ain’t for George and who can blame him? End up with a mortgage sized debt and living on the dole? His advice, and a neat chat up line for the ladies too, “Oh...if you wanna waste five years, baby you can do it with me”. Smooth. George is equally at home tinkling the ivories as he is tackling the modern teenage malaise though, with tracks like Bewitched and Masquerade channelling his inner Coldplay and showing an emotional maturity beyond his years.
A challenge to the audience to dance like crazy to win a CD elicits an unusually enthusiastic response, as clear an indication as you’re likely to get that he’s got that magical ability to connect with a crowd too, which, above everything else, is ultimately all that really matters. You can have the tunes, the skills and the lyrics but if the crowd ain’t feeling it you’ve got jack. Any lingering doubts about this were well and truly squished by the last track, No Idea, the one that got an impressive cross section of the crowd on the tables. A slightly bonkers mix of jungle drumming, ska and boogie woogie, its title couldn’t be more misleading...George knows exactly what he’s doing and I’ve an idea that pretty soon plenty more people will too.
17 days is out on Wild Wolf Records on 12th March 2012