- David Kettle
- 2 August 2019
This article is from 2019
Compelling hour somewhere on the cusp of jazz and theatre
Staged jazz gig? Concept album delivered live with dance and movement? Whatever it is, it's hard to see Nearly Human from London-based progressive brass band Perhaps Contraption as theatre. But that hardly matters: this is an infectiously compelling hour of songs and instrumental numbers delivered with unflinching energy and conviction – as well as some intricate dance routines – by nine exceptional musicians on wind, brass, guitar and percussion. It's almost impossible to categorise, but that's kind of the point.
There are things to quibble with in the show. It's probably unwise to focus so strongly on vocal numbers when the group's singing isn't up to the same standard as their instrumental playing. Nearly Human's words often get pretty lost in among the musical numbers' dense textures and harmonic and rhythmic intricacies. And its underlying theme – of the wonder of mankind's existence when we're all just atoms and star-matter – feels so vague as to be almost redundant.
But surrender yourself to the radiant harmonies and slick choreography, and it's hard not to get swept up in Perhaps Contraption's abundant energy. You might leave scratching your head as to what Nearly Human was all about, but you'll know you've been entertained.
Pleasance Dome, until 26 Aug (not 13), 11.50am, £9–£12 (£8–£11).