This article is based on Herbie Hancock’s concert at Barbican Hall on 28 July 2023.
A Night to Remember
The very idea of reviewing a legend like Herbie Hancock might seem almost ludicrous. However, his performance at the Barbican Hall was a night to remember, and it would be unjust not to share the details of this incredible concert. The lineup consisted of Herbie Hancock on piano and keys, James Genus on bass, Jaylen Petinaud on drums, Lionel Loueke on guitar and voice, and Terence Blanchard playing the trumpet. Each musician is a star in their own right, and together they formed a super-band representing various generations, nations, and talents.
A Warm and Captivating Presence
Herbie Hancock’s charisma and talent captivated the audience from the very beginning. He warned them that things would “start a little weird,” as the musicians maneuvered through soundscapes and snippets of familiar tunes in a highly engaging overture. Lionel Loueke showcased his prowess and creativity through singing and playing during this segment, setting the stage for the rest of the night.
A Feast for the Ears
The concert featured a satisfying selection of music, including everything one could hope to hear from Herbie Hancock. Although some might perceive this as pandering, it was undoubtedly a delightful experience. They played “Footprints” as a tribute to friend and colleague Wayne Shorter, with Terence Blanchard on the trumpet.
Following “Footprints,” the band performed a funky tune called “Actual Proof” from the 1974 album Thrust. This piece allowed Jaylen Petinaud to showcase his incredible skills, riffing and playing with Herbie. Next, they played “Come Running to Me” from the album Sunlight, during which Hancock demonstrated the use of a vocoder device, translating his words through the keyboard. He ended the song with a heartfelt speech about humanity and the importance of treating one another with respect.
Showcasing Individual Talent
James Genus delivered an impressive improvised solo on his 5-string bass, using a loop pedal to mesmerize the audience. As if things couldn’t get any better, Hancock brought out his keytar and played “Secret Sauce,” followed by the all-time favorite “Chameleon” from the album Head Hunters.
A Standing Ovation for a Legend
Herbie Hancock, at 83 years young, received several standing ovations from the adoring audience. He graciously complimented them for their warmth and generosity, but it was undoubtedly Hancock’s talent and charisma that left the audience awestruck. The evening concluded with a spectacular finale, as the jazz legend performed a keytar-carrying star jump to end the final note.