Standing in the South Gallery of Proud Camden waiting for Eric Ness to come on stage, I was worried. I had just watched new band The Invasion Of come on stage with the personality of a wart, play like they had never actually met each other.
The crowd in the room was a bizarre mix of people, none of who looked like they were enjoying themselves (with the exception of Big Brother’s Nikki Graham who was milling about the room like a demented Barbie doll posing for photos). All in all – things weren’t looking good.
And then, like a musical messiah, Eric Ness and his band appeared on stage and turned the flavourless atmosphere on its head with an injection of raw, unadulterated fun.
With his blonde hair sticking out under a trilby, guitar in hands and wearing wide rimmed geek-chic specs Ness looked every inch the Norwegian glam-jazz god. However he certainly wasn’t the only personality on stage as his six-piece supporting band completed the mise-en-scene. Standing next to him were two backing singers decked out in sexy black dresses, one of them welding a flute, both wearing massive smiles. Behind them were a mandolin player, a guy on double base and another guitar player. As they greeted the crowd and leapt into the first track they displayed the kind of unity that was sorely missing from the previous performance.
What ensued was an infectious performance that had even the most aloof and trendy spectators tapping their toes with gay abandon. Ness added the perfect amount of interaction with the room, chatting between songs and getting everyone to sing along during Valentine, one of the more memorable tracks. The music itself was a cluster of genres referencing pop, blues, jazz and swing. The soaring melodies and catchy riffs were complimented amazingly with the array of instruments. I mean who can argue with a mandolin? No one in Proud Camden that was for damn sure.
After the set the room was buzzing. The uplifting nature of the band seemed to have caught on and spread throughout the room. As the crowd trickled out I managed to grab Henrietta – the flute playing singer – for a quick chat. She gushed about how much fun it was to play with Eric and how well everybody in the band got on. She needn’t have said it, as that was obviously the case.
When something so refreshingly unique comes along it’s hard not to get excited. It was a fabulous performance and entirely enjoyable; I needn’t have worried at all.
Eric Ness performed on Tuesday 3 August at:
The Stables Market