Review by J Hunter
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Chamber’s closing number was a burning medley of “Let’s Dance” and “Fame,” a quick glimpse of the tribute show they did to David Bowie a few years ago. On the other side of the GE Theatre (and I do mean the other side), the audience sat firmly in their seats. It wasn’t that they weren’t enjoying themselves – far from it! It’s just that after the two-set assault of this towering juggernaut, the crowd’s collective brain had pretty much shorted out.
To give you some perspective, we’re talking a ten-piece group with a leader (former Village Voice columnist Greg Tate) who also plays rhythm guitar when he isn’t conducting the band – and when he wasn’t conducting, the job was ably handled by either vocalist Mikel Banks, violinist Mazz Swift or keyboardist Bruce Mack. On one side of the stage was a two-person reed section that handled spaced-out jazz and down-and-dirty funk with equal dexterity, while the other side was held down by a guitarist whose solo lines were nearly as blinding as his wardrobe choices. What we have here is the musical equivalent of a 700-pound gorilla: It does whatever it sets out to do, and accomplishes it with the kind of crushing power normally associated with nuclear submarines and fire-breathing dinosaurs.