Beneath the giant disco ball of 24 Kitchen Street is the perfect setting for the effortlessly cool Amp Fiddler. Illuminated by red lighting, Amp is dressed in a boiler suit proudly emblazoned with the name ‘Detroit’, a gorgeous hat and sunglasses. Sunglasses inside a small, dark studio? Why? Because he can. Because he’s Amp Fiddler. A celebrated, Detroit-based funk and soul musician, and longstanding member of George Clinton’s Parliament-Funkadelic. He has shared stages and studios with the likes of Prince and techno/house Detroit-based producer, Moodymann. Amp starts his UK tour in Liverpool to promote his recent album, Motor City Booty.
Prior to his set, the amiable Amp mingles with the anticipating crowd, which gives me a chance to meet him. I learn that he is actually quite nervous and still new to doing live DJ sets, but this isn’t apparent in his performance. Delivering a mix of jazz, funk and soul, R&B, disco and house, it is a set that anyone could appreciate in the snug space of 24 Kitchen Street, where suddenly everyone’s your mate and anyone can dance.
Performing his own tracks as well as remixes of others, Amp’s set portrays the 70s vibe of his unique and modern sound that derives from diverse musical influences. However, it is clear that Amp’s music is rooted in funk and soul, which feeds into the overall warm and relaxed atmosphere of the night. Songs from Motor City Booty, such as ‘Superficial’, ‘Your Love Is All I Need’, and ‘Soul Fly Pt. 2’, have an overlap of funk/soul bass and vocals, with the repetitive techno beats of house music. Nobody is stood against the wall in 24 Kitchen Street tonight. The set unfolds without any awkward pauses; those moments when you find yourself unsure of how to move, or abruptly interrupted by an off-beat. He delivers the perfect soundtrack that you can’t help but move to, that even the shyest of folks could effortlessly move to. Amp enthusiastically bops to his own sound, evidently having just as much fun as we were.
Remixes, such as Alice Smith’s Love Endeavour, heighten and speed up the rhythm, incorporating techno beats and drums, whilst maintaining the smooth jazz and soul of the original track. The night reaches its height during Amp’s remix of Patti Labelle’s Music Is My Way Of Life, with the continuous, intense bongo drums and repetition of the lyric, ‘music is my life, got to keep on dancing’. He begins by mixing warped techno and jazz beats, with a light, twinkling piano, keeping with the funk and soul flavour, which gradually builds up as the track becomes more fast-paced and disco-like.
24 Kitchen Street is filled with the catchy beats and rhythms of Amp’s deep funk, electro and house set. It doesn’t take long for the audience to warm up to Amp and maintain high spirits. He sings his own smooth, swooning vocals over the tracks, and often leaves his set to dance with us. In the words of Amp himself, ‘music for the head as much as food for the heart and soul’.
9th July 2016
Amp Fiddler – 24 Kitchen Street, Liverpool
Review written for and published by Bido Lito! Issue #70 page 38