Hackney Colliery Band stream to cover of Nirvana’s ‘Heart-Shaped Box’

Hackney Colliery Band stream to cover of Nirvana’s ‘Heart-Shaped Box’

After the stunning success of their critically-acclaimed third album Sharpener, London’s brass juggernauts Hackney Colliery Band blaze back onto the scene with their first live album, released 12th May via Veki.



“Whirling carnival maelstrom” UNCUT

“Clever, and enormous fun” THE GUARDIAN

An ingenious blend of showmanship and intelligence” THE SUNDAY TIMES

“An infectious tumult of horns and drums” i

“More good brass form the east London funksters” EVENING STANDARD

“Swings irresistibly” FINANCIAL TIMES

“Upbeat, witty and rather beautiful” SUNDAY EXPRESS

Hearing the band playing live is a very different experience from listening to their three studio albums; it becomes immediately obvious that, far from locked-down studio heads, these are some serious jazz improvisers, here stretching out on extended solos, and with a restless energy for pushing the groove and form in new directions. But this consummate musicianship and skill is always worn very lightly: the band have always managed to present complex music in an extremely playful, fun way, and to a very broad demographic, which on these recordings takes in young east London hipsters and Oxfordshire retirees with equal ease. Front man Steve Pretty’s interactions with the crowd, particularly towards the end of the set, raise the energy levels still further, and those with a good ear can listen out for some heart-warming moments from the audience, like the somewhat slurry man a little bit too close to the sound desk microphone singing along to Heart-Shaped Box, or the room gradually falling silent during the mesmerising introduction to the album’s only ballad Reawake.


And it’s these quirks, these little imperfections, that make this album special. Rather than going through the recordings with a fine-tooth comb removing the trumpet cracks, sax squeaks or drum mishits which are inevitable in a 90-minute power set with seven brass musicians and two drummers, the production is minimal. This gives a rare ‘warts and all’ insight into how the band sound live.


Steve Pretty, the band’s frontman said: “We’ve always prided ourselves on putting on a really great live show, and the exciting thing about live gigs is that anything can happen. Unfortunately, that means that if I missed a note somewhere, that will now live with me and annoy me forever, but we wanted a really honest portrayal, with no overdubs or excessive production, just capturing the energy of the room”.


With the brass band revival in full swing, Hackney Colliery Band manage to occupy their own very distinctive space. Washes of Scandinavian-influenced electronica collide with extended contemporary jazz improvisation, dancefloor-friendly beats contrast with pounding rock rhythms, and Balkanesque melodies nestle up against soul and hip hop grooves. This set owes as much to modern European jazz and American alternative rock as it does to New Orleans second lines or the traditional British brass bands to which their name pays tribute.


UK tour dates:

17/3                        LINCOLN                              Drill Hall

22/4                        STROUD                               Subscription Rooms

28/4                        MARGATE                             Dreamland

29/4                        GREAT YARMOUTH           Tower Complex

05/5                        BRISTOL                               Colston Hall

10/5                        WARWICK                             Arts Centre

12/5                        MILTON KEYNES                Stables

13/5                        BIRMINGHAM                      Repertory Theatre

26/5                        LONDON                               KOKO

27/5                        BURY                                     Met

06/6                        TRURO                                  Hall for Cornwall

16/6                        MANCHESTER                    Band on the Wall

17/6                        WAKEFIELD                         Unity Works

22-25/6                  GLASTONBURY                  Pilton

28/6                        FOLKESTONE                     Cornerhouse

29/6                        PARIS                                    New Morning

08/7                        NORWICH                             Forum

14/7                        NEWTON LONGVILLE       Into the Wild Festival

15/7                        BROMSGROVE                    Artrix

03/8                        NEWQUAY                            Lusty Glaze

04/8                        MORECAMBE                      Platform

28/8                        LONDON                               House of Common Festival                      

10/9                        ISLE OF WIGHT                   Bestival

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Hackney Colliery Band stream to cover of Nirvana’s ‘Heart-Shaped Box’