I heard The Fantastics were playing at The Wardrobe in Leeds through the Craig Charles Funk & Soul Show. Quite enamoured by their recent album 'All The People' and keen to see local girl Sulene Fleming back in Leeds, this was a gig listing too good to miss. Having seen many funk, jazz and soul bands at The Wardrobe before it seemed the perfect place for my first ever viewing of The Fantastics.
At first arrival to the venue, it possibly wasn't the best of crowds for this gig unfortunately, as the usual 'muso' heads weren't around and if anything there was a bunch of folk wanting to come here but not necessarily for the music. This didn't deter the experienced Fantastics, who shone with aplomb. The band kept to their strong musical jazz and funk formula, showcasing musical tracks from the recent album like 'Sweetback' that saw woodwind musician Mark Norton jumping into the crowd and playing amongst them to get the atmosphere going! The rest of the band - Greg Boraman (keyboards), Pete Collison (guitar), Raydn Hunter (bass) - continued on with professionalism and sophistication throughout the night. However, what I was really looking forward to was the arrival of the aforementioned Sulene Flemming who I'm sure was excited at the prospect of performing in her home town. I was blown away by her powerful and enriching soulful vocals! With a wonderful performance of 'Somewhere Finally' it was clear moving down to London was a good move for her.
Overall, The Fantastics played a good performance to an unknowing northern crowd that were won over by the end of the night but perhaps, they didn't give as much love as they should. However, professionals are professionals and the The Fantastics showed that with grace. There's no doubt Sulene's performance was the highlight for me and genuinely showed promise for a rising star from the north. All good!