Tom McGuire & the Brassholes, Bristol Thekla: 'This is not soul. It’s glorious, unashamed funk'

Tom McGuire and the Brassholes on stage at Thekla in BristolTom McGuire and the Brassholes on stage at Thekla in Bristol
Tom McGuire and the Brassholes on stage at Thekla in Bristol | Bristol World
Our reviewer was blown away by this almighty eight-piece funk party machine from Glasgow

Timing is everything. Two weeks ago I’d never heard of the implausibly named Tom McGuire & the Brassholes.

One random suggested Spotify playlist later with three of their songs, a quick Google search on the off-chance they were playing Bristol any time soon and I was at Thekla on a Wednesday night to be blown away by this almighty eight-piece funk party machine from Glasgow.

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Lead singer and guitarist Tom had us in the palm of his hands the moment he asked: “Are yous ready?” and twanged out the first chords of Super Solid Soul Vehicle.

Don’t be mis-sold by the title of that opening number, though. This is not soul. It’s glorious, unashamed funk.

A fact given away slightly by the lyrics to their fourth of the night: “24/7 funk hilarity – you want it? You got it.”

But it’s also funk with a real freshness that elevates it beyond simple throwback revival territory.

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The band – half of which is a brass section – has two albums to its name to date, and the bulk of this barnstorming set was from their latest, Stay Rad, released earlier this year.

There’s a healthy dose of humour in their music, which they bring to the fore in their live performances.

What sets this lot apart, however, is the accomplished musicianship, inspired arrangements and songwriting craft that combines complexity with pop – no easy balance – on a par with predecessors Jamiroquai.

In fact if I could try to describe Tom’s superb vocals, it’s like Jay Kay having swallowed Terence Trent D’Arby.

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My only disappointment was that they didn’t play their best song, the opener from Stay Rad – “D.R.E.A.D” – which, if you are in any way not repulsed by funk, I implore you to discover. It’s an incredible piece of work with echoes of Stevie Wonder in his heyday.

But hey, any band who hit the scene with a tribute to WWE legend Ric Flair as their debut single is fine by me.

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