© David Rae Morris/epa/Corbis
The spirit of Louisiana came to Croydon last Wednesday (13 July), as New Orleans' legend Zigaboo Modeliste brought his funk to Fairfield Halls. Joining the ex-Meters man on stage were London's The Coalminers, who kept pace with Ziggy through a physically taxing and hit-packed set. Ziggy opened the show with 'Cissy Strut' to set the tone before adding his distinctive, raw voice to the mix on 'I Like It Like That'.
The Clave groove of 'Hey Pocky-Way' was followed by a pumped up arrangement of 'Africa', delivered with far more energy than the original studio recording. "I hope the drummers in the house can take away something," he said after a superb performance of 'Just Kissed My Baby'. What makes Ziggy's playing so compelling, and so hard to replicate, is the looseness in his feel. He pushes, pulls and stretches the pulse almost to breaking point, but somehow never falls out of the pocket. His power is remarkable and Ziggy really hammers the kit – his snare snaps like a firecracker even when he plays with traditional grip.
There was another wicked drum break showcasing Ziggy's talent for syncopated improvisation in 'Rubber Band' before he brought the audience up to date with some new solo material. 'Keep On Marching', dedicated to anyone in the Armed Forces serving overseas, opened with military snare rolls before Ziggy and Coalminer's percussionist Pat Levett swapped phrases. It was hard to believe this was the first time the group had performed with Zigaboo, they followed his every twist and turn, never dropping the groove even when you could see he was deliberately testing them. He wrapped up with 'New Life', off his latest CD, and played 'People Say' for the encore. The old master may be greying at the temples, but his funk remains potent, strong and magical.