City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Lizzard Lounge 2010 Review

By Dylan Matthew - Posted on 05 August 2010

Ty at Lizzard Lounge 2010/Photo by Xantholou O'Connor
Show details
Joseph Malik, Toby Shippey, Simon Hodge, Jim Bathgate
Fred Wesley and the new JB's, Ty and Joseph Malik Live, The Rumba Caliente Afro Latin Soul Orchestra

Many many moons ago I had the pleasure of occasionally frequenting Lizzard Lounge, a club night at Café Graffiti, in the basement of Mansfield Church at the bottom end of Edinburgh’s trendy Broughton Street area.

Serving up a heady mix of jazz, funk, soul and Latino grooves from local and international musicians and DJ’s, Lizzard lounge is rightly remembered now as one of the prime events of Edinburgh’s club scene from over a decade ago. It was perhaps all the more distinct for being in direct opposition to Rave/Trance scene which took over the city, and the UK, in the mid 90’s.

So it seemed fitting that a now legendary club should have a bona-fide legend headline for a one-off reunion tribute at the Edinburgh Jazz and Blue Festival night some 11 years after the Lounge played its final tune.

Unfortunately, I arrive a little late to catch the start of the first act so I race up the stairs, ticket in hand with my bag slung over my shoulder almost side-by-side another gentleman in a dapper suit and hat, also clutching his ticket and a conspicuous long black case. I think nothing of it initially as I enter the venue and grab a drink from the bar as he disappears ahead of me into the throng.

Drink purchased, I take my place at the back of the dance floor and start the first toe tapping of the night as I survey the scene, taking in Lizzard Lounge’s co-founder Joseph Malik, nattily dressed and joined on stage by local diva Nicky King in a striking red dress worthy of Oscar attendance. The pair of them are belting out what could have been a soul classic worthy of Aretha Franklin. And who should suddenly emerge from behind the curtain clutching a trombone in hand and stroll up to the mic just in time to blast out his contribution but the gentleman I’d raced up the stairs with. No wonder he was in a hurry.

Before this first section of the evening concluded I couldn’t help but be impressed by Malik’s stage presence and voice. He’s a well known DJ, composer and musician in his own right on the local scene but he’s go a cracking pair of lungs as well. Let’s hope we see more of this man in future, not just behind the decks but on stage and reaching a wider audience.

Next up was Mercury Prize nominee and London based hip hop artist Ty. Dressed casually in jeans, a suit jacket and a bright green adidas t-shirt, he strolls quickly on stage with his backing DJ and mixer almost out of sight behind him and wastes no time in persuading the obliging and growing crowd to move down to the front before launching into his act. His material is confident, lyrically positive with feel-good vibes and LOUD. And once he has the crowd in his hands eagerly shouting out the call-backs he jumps offstage into the throng singing to and amongst them.

It’s an energetic and memorable set and has the place fired up and ready for more the traditionally Lizzard Lounge-ish Rumba Caliente Afro Latin Soul Orchestra who in direct contrast to Ty completely fill the formerly bare stage with musicians and instruments. Half an hour later the now packed venue is witness to some seriously professional salsa/swing-esque couple dancing.

Finally, in the early hours of the morning just as I’m beginning to flag, Fred Wesley and the new JB’s, the main event crashes into my consciousness.

A renowned jazz musician, Wesley was one of the chief forces at work in charge of shaping the unique brassy funk backing horns that embellished the classic vocal shrieks of the inimitable James Brown. The JB’s are on stage bathed in blue light and stage smoke. You can tell just from the way they hold themselves that these guys are the real deal, that they’ve been around the block a few times. The man himself strides on last and in his Southern States gravel drawl says ‘Hi. I’m Fred Wesley’.

They strike up the first pitch perfect notes en-masse and instantly you know they’re masters of their craft. I had no trouble imagining James Brown coming back to life, strolling on stage and launching into his manic sex machine routine. After an impressive and captivating set I wander home with tinnitus and Wesley’s horns still ringing in my ears and a warm dose of Lizzard Lounge nostalgia as little flashes of my long gone clubbing days re-surface in my mind.

Photo by Xanthoula O'Connor

Event: July 30 2010, 10.30pm - 3am