The Button Factory is filled with the younger half of Dublin’s brass players as Youngblood Brass Band take to the stage, touring to promote their latest release, ‘Pax Volumi’. There’s been a suspense-filled wait as Youngblood skipped Ireland in their last European tour, so the night has been long-awaited and the crowd is close to losing it before the band has even finished its first song.
A Youngblood classic, Culture:Envy:War, kicks things up a notch. It is, as ever, incredibly tight. Every line, hit and pause is exactly in time throughout the group. The lights are equally impressive, strobes used to sparing perfection. The crowd sings along with the brass lines rather than the words, showing where preferences lie. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot brings a new element to their music with Latin beats mixed into their hiphop, New Orleans feel.
Well keyed in for marketing, 20 Questions from the group’s new record sparks a chorus of name chanted. The group deals with it well when a birthday celebrant decides to switch things around a bit, having the craic with the crowd. Whether it’s the dancing, singing, jumping or chanting, the audience are pushing themselves to the limit, led by Youngblood, with Joe Goltz somehow dancing and thrusting around while playing impeccably.
Brooklyn takes its place at the close of the set, as it ever will: that tune can just never be beat with its pumping hot lines, driving beats and solos that just don’t let up. The heap of steaming bodies towards the front of the stage are all jumping to the beat. Nat McIntosh stands firm as he lets rip on the ultimate solo, when everyone loses whatever wits they had left—apart from the few that just gape in awe—as he throws multiphonics, sung lines, beat boxing and a whole lot of lip into his sousaphone and gets back out a perfect rendition of what has to be the most infamous, and glorious, of any brass solos. For those that say trumpets have the toughest lips and fastest fingers, you obviously haven’t seen this guy move.
When it came time for Tony Barba to take up the bass clarinet, the crowd are eagerly chanting and calling for it, but the crowd has suffered a definite drop in energy levels and the chanting gives in when it can’t be heard because of some dodgy sound balancing. Seemingly the back of the room has it just right, but up front it isn’t quite working, and that’s where the party is. However, perfect sound balance is hardly the name of the game when it comes to YBB—it helps that they have to be some of the most technically skilled brass players going, and yeah they’re incredibly tight, but what is it that sets them apart? They. Bring. It.
“You coming to the gig?/Yep, three letters/YBB forever”