6th May | Crofters Rights

Waldo’s Gift‘s much-anticipated debut has crash-landed on Earth. After zooming through an asteroid belt of metallic jazz and turbulent math loops, it’s finally here. To celebrate this mementous event, it only seemed fitting to have a show to celebrate – a sell-out one no less.

Underneath the glittering disco ball at Crofters Rights, support for the evening, Snazzback, were in full swing. They performed a seamless set of jazz-fused tunes, with their obvious interests in Afrobeat and neo-soul seeping through. The mystic ‘D.M.S’ was a personal highlight, with silvery vocals from China Bowls reverberating throughout the room. You can find Snazzback dwelling at the harbourside on sunny days performing their wicked brew.

It was a bank holiday Monday. In theory, most of the population was hungover. It was a sold-out gig which is a feat itself, especially for a Monday night. If you’re unfamiliar with their set-up, I’ll give you a quick Waldo’s Gift 101: each of their performances is unique within their own right. Everything is improvised and it all quickly ascends into a chaotic amalgamation of genres. Now that I’ve laid down the framework, let me get into the actual review.

“We’re really humbled you’ve come to experience this,” drummer James Vine announced to the audience. I wasn’t sure what the night was going to have in store. Were they going to perform the improvised songs from their album? How do you perform already existing improvised works? Projections of gestural brushstrokes and animated paintings provided the backdrop of the night, all made by the illustrious Holysseus Fly. These projections only intensified when things got even more chaotic.

Alun Elliot-Williams began the alchemy, bending over his pedal board like a mad scientist, creating a lullaby-like loop which was a little 8-bit in style. Harry Stoneham on bass and James Vine had already established a smooth and slick rhythm, whilst Alun’s intense shredding interrupted this poetry and added a sharp angle to the fluidity of the drum and bass.

Everything began to throb. All three had taken their shoes off and were feeling the energy bouncing off one another. Chakras had been aligned and Waldo’s Gift were in full flow. There were flairs of prog intertwined and a cacophony of percussion was bellowing throughout the jam-packed Crofters.

Alun, James and Harry were all vibing off one another. Gelling an impressive range of genres and time signatures, they all began laughing at the ridiculousness that was unfolding which only made us smile in response. As the song became more chaotic, the visuals in the foreground became more twisted.

A thunderous five minutes then ensued. I don’t think I even blinked once. A roar of applause came from the crowd after this. The wilder they played, the louder the response was from the crowd – it was like a math-jazz double-dutch chant. Finishing with a contorted time signature and plenty of fuzzy bass, it was an exhilarating experience and I can’t say I’ve ever seen a single song being performed for an hour straight before, let alone it being all improvised.

“We are so humbled that 100 people came here on a Monday night to listen to some improvised math-jazz,” James announced. We too were overawed and humbled by their skills. In short, the night was bonkers.

See previous improvisation from Waldo’s Gift here: