Red Snapper

Vibraphonic Festival 2008 reviews

published: Tue 25th Mar 2008

Red Snapper

Friday 29th February to Sunday 16th March 2008
various venues across Exeter, Devon, EX4 3LS, England MAP
Various - free and from around £8 - £20
last updated: Mon 21st Jan 2008

I'd not seen Red Snapper before and didn't really know what to expect for tonight's helping of Vibraphonic festival.

What I was expecting was a support act, but there appeared to be no DJ on duty in the cosy main room of the Exeter Phoenix, instead music spilled from the speakers.

Eventually, the screen behind the stage went red, the lights dipped and the speakers uttered, "Come out to show them" on repeat. The four piece take to the stage and, play drum n bass, to techno to trip hop live with only some clever magic on the guitar. There's no vocal, just jazz saxophone or clarinet, the bass playing of Ali Friend is amazing sometimes using a bow and sometimes using his fingers his head jerks to the beat.

Red Snapper


It's music to swing your shoulders to or stroke your chin and the front smattering dance to the techno drums and I enjoy the noodling of the guitar at times. Though the overall feeling is a techno band mixed with one of those seventies rock jazz outfits at their fully wigged out.

There's a spacey song in the set I like that sounds a bit more trance, but most this set has that old school Bristol trip hop feel and is crying out for a sultry female vocal to give it some anchorage.

I think having been to see this instrumental act, that I'm a bit of a heathern when it comes to instrumental music. I need to know the tunes to be able to recognise and relate to, and I like to hear words not jazz saxophone.

Red Snapper


There were many here tonight who did know the tunes and each one was loudly applauded sometimes on the opening bass line or first notes from the saxophone. However there's only so much jazz inspired music I can take without lyrics.

I loved the bass playing of the metrnomic head bopping Ali Friend and enjoyed the tight drumming of Richard Thair who really worked up a sweat delivering tight dance beats - techno without the tech! But that wasn't enough for me, the static red glow of the back screen and the moody lighting, and no words to latch on made it extremely difficult to not switch off.

This is their first date back on tour, since they've split, "We've been gone for a while, doing other things. Cooking mainly in my case." Says Friend and all the musicians sound too tight for this to be true. I have since discovered it is they split in 2002.

Red Snapper


The last few tracks show dub influences, thank god, and it's more my thing, they do it superbly with David Ayers on guitar with pedals and a mac next to him really shows some wizardry on the fretboard, if only this band were more reggae than jazz.

Okay, so I might be a heathen and if you like this kind of thing, and many did - leaving the venue I hear many different people saying how it was the best gig they'd ever heard. Ever? Really? Well for me I would have enjoyed this in the background at festival while doing some wood carving or something (anything), but stood watching it with no distractions I found it hard going until the dub kicked in.
review by: Scott Williams

Friday 29th February to Sunday 16th March 2008
various venues across Exeter, Devon, EX4 3LS, England MAP
Various - free and from around £8 - £20
last updated: Mon 21st Jan 2008


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