Gig Review: Music Spoken Here presents FNUK at The Marr’s Bar, Worcester – 11th January 2024
The cold, dark, midwinter evening on Thursday did not deter hardened jazz-rock fans across the West Midlands from descending in droves on the Marr’s Bar in Worcester for a night of classic jazz-rock, played by an incredible group of friends originating from the Bournemouth jazz scene.
It was indeed chilly as the six-piece band, led by Pete Case and featuring Sting and Jeff Beck’s pianist Jason Rebello, guitarist and producer Paul Stacey and his twin brother Jeremy Stacey, loaded into the Marr’s Bar. But the temperature rose and the coats were off as the queue down Pierpoint Street filed in and filled the place with warm anticipation!
Described by Case as ‘a covers band’, the busy musicians that make up FNUK get together just a couple of times a year to play their favourite, most challenging tunes from the jazz-fusion greats of the ‘70s and ‘80s. The first set opened with Pools by Steps Ahead, a 15-minute ‘appetiser’ introducing Tim Fulker’s Brecker-esque sax from the start, with additional features from Pat Davey on bass, Rebello superbly emulating Mainieri’s vibes on his Roland A-88 keyboard and the first taste of Paul Stacey’s mastery of the guitar.
With the band and audience suitably warmed up, the band continued with Black Market by Weather Report, with Davey laying down the instantly-recognisable Alphonso Johnson groove while Rebello, Case and Fulker made good on the Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter parts throughout, being relentlessly driven along by Jeremy Stacey commanding the kit to his every rhythmic nuance!
The first set developed further with Michael Brecker’s Nothing Personal, featuring Stacey’s melodic guitar, Fulker’s exuberant sax, and Rebello adopting an acoustic piano sound for his solo that finished rather spectacularly with a stool adjustment that landed him briefly on the stage floor, though perfectly landing his left hand on exactly the right note on the way down! Fortunately, no jazz-related injuries were sustained!
The vibe was chilled down a bit with John Scofield’s swinging blues groove Let The Cat Out, before finishing the first set with the absolutely stonking Absolute Proof by Herbie Hancock, but not before a brief stand-up comic interlude from Rebello!
The second set opened with the gorgeously evocative It’s For You, from the splendid As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls album by Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays, with Paul Stacey invoking Metheny remarkably. We saw more of Paul’s meticulous attention to detail as the band tackled Jeff Beck’s arrangement of the Mingus tribute to Lester Young, Goodbye Pork Pie Hat (presumably less of a challenge for Rebello, who toured with Jeff Beck for six years with this one in the repertoire).
This was followed by another Lyle Mays composition Slink, closing out the final set with another Herbie Hancock classic Watermelon Man (the 1973 Headhunters arrangement). The packed house of appreciative jazz-rock fans called out for more and were rewarded with an encore of Jeff Beck’s Led Boots from the genre-defining 1976 album Wired.
If any of the audience were still in any doubt about the sheer magnificence of this long-standing group of friends from Bournemouth, then Led Boots certainly put that to bed with everyone giving it everything for the eight-minute finale. The joyous buzz in the room was electric as punters lingered among new acquaintances and enthused about what they had just experienced! I went to see the Lee Jones Quartet at Jazz at The Bonded Warehouse in Stourbridge on Friday and the band had all heard about the incredible gig the night before in Worcester.
Music Spoken Here present the very best in UK jazz, funk and fusion, every other Thursday at The Marrs Bar, Worcester.
Photography by Carl Freeman