REVIEW: Wellington band Fat Freddy's Drop has sent another European crowd home with smiling faces, ringing ears and possible heart palpitations.
This time the crowd is an eclectic mix of Italians and ex-pats in the university town of Bologna in northern Italy.
There were a few New Zealand flags floating around and that recognisable Kiwi twang could be heard throughout the building, but Fat Freddy's Drop are popular with the reggae-loving locals too and they often play to huge crowds throughout the country.
Though the audience was slow to trickle in at first, the sizeable warehouse-style venue was at capacity and except for a few couples taking advantage of the dark corners in typical Italian fashion, everyone was there to party.
A DJ warmed the earlier arrivals up with reggae and dub classics including Kiwi favourites Katchafire.
At about 10pm, Fat Freddy's Drop finally took to the stage and by the time the first few notes of their new album Blackbird landed, the crowd was jumping, dancing and screaming their approval. The songs from the new album were self-described as a mix of disco, rootsy dub, blues, soul and electronic funk.
The songs were drawn out and jammed into a frenzy just as Fat Freddy's do best and old favourites like Midnight Marauders and Roady turned the first few rows of the crowd into a heaving, sweaty mosh pit.
There was no room to move and though most people were dripping with sweat, they still tried their best to skank up a storm.
Frontman Joe Dukie's vocals were silky-smooth and effortless and he hit the right notes with the audience when he complemented Italian cuisine, rubbing his stomach and yelling "grazie!".
Trombone player Joe Lindsay's show-stealing, wiggling dance moves were a hit and his costume change from pinstripe suit down to white shorts, a lime-green satin jacket and knee high socks was hilarious.
The home grown soul collective is now on the final stages of a taxing album tour which began in June and has seen many sell-out crowds around Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
They have played more than 400 shows in Europe since their formation and have built up a very loyal following throughout the continent.
But if Fat Freddy's Drop are tiring, there were no signs of it here.
The band finished their first ever Bologna gig with an energetic and ska-heavy version of Shiverman and resisted the crowd's demands for an encore before retiring for the night.
The seven-piece play in France and Portugal before heading back to New Zealand for a short rest.
- © Fairfax NZ News