Shakatak in Concert
After becoming popular in the 80s Shakatak have continued to write, record, and perform live, and have a career spanning more than 30 years. I didn’t see them in the height of their fame, but a number of years later, perhaps in 2006 or 2007, when I went along to see them at a jazz club in Japan.
They put on a good show, playing their hits from the past, interspersed with some of their more recent work.
Although some of their albums might, arguably, be described as background music their show was certainly engaging. There were no gimmicks, no audience participation sections that I can remember, no light shows, just a good, solid, musical delivery of British jazz funk at its best.
I was surprised when Bill Sharpe did a solo piano version of their hit Easier Said than Done, but for the rest of the time it was pure Shakatak, with their solid funk bass lines, percussion, a nicely understated guitar part adding a vital ingredient to the funk feel, and of course those jazz keyboard lines.
Vocalist Jill Saward played a much bigger role than she did on their early hits Easier Said than Done, Invitations, and Night Birds, where the vocal parts seemed more incidental than anything else, and proved to be a more talented singer than I had thought. She also provided additional percussion at times.
I chatted with the guitarist after the concert and asked if Bill Sharpe used his own keyboards on tour. Apparently nowadays he just travels with a couple of sound modules and uses whatever midi keyboard is available, or so I was told, but it makes sense.
One final memory of the evening was when I was in a line waiting to enter the club. Two young ladies rushed past everyone and went straight to the front, in what appeared to be a blatant attempt to queue-jump. Then I heard one of them say ‘We’re with Shakatak’, and indeed they were. I remember thinking that they were probably too young to remember the success of Shakatak in the 80s.
It was good to hear British jazz funk alive and well, and I would have no hesitation in going to see Shakatak again if they came to town.