Review: The EllaFunks

JENNA CORDEROY: ‘with a Corona in one hand and a notepad in the other, I braced myself for what was going to be an electrifying night, and watch the professionals at work’

Ben Reeve Bloc Party Blu Cantrell daniel bedingfield Dominic Johnpillai EllaFunks Empire state of mind Kayne West Lady Gaga Mansour Ahmed MGMT Nina Simone Rachel Gaughan Shayan Moftizadeh Soul Tree The Yapps

Thursday 17th June at Soul Tree. £4.

EllaFunks at the Cambridge Union Garden Party

For those who were looking for a night on the town minus dishing out for a May Ball ticket, Soul Tree was definitely the place to be.  King’s home-grown talent, The EllaFunks, and supporting act The Yapps, provided funk, soul, and hip hop to the crowds throughout the night until the early morning, delivered with high energy that never once faltered.  

The Yapps were warmly welcomed by the supportive crowds, kicking off with explosive songs such as Lady Gaga’s ‘Telephone’.  There is something unique about this band, and being a sucker for mash-ups, I loved how they blended different strands of songs to form something that they could call their own, for instance, one song was a soulful mash-up Daniel Bedingfield’s ‘Gotta Get Thru This’, ‘Kids’ by MGMT, with elements of ‘Flux’ by Bloc Party for the closing.  They make cheesy 90s tunes cool again, such as their chilled take on ‘Sweet Like Chocolate’, complete with spot-on harmonies provided by the band’s singers Shayan Moftizadeh and Rachel Gaughan.  There’s an element of unexpectedness to the band, which was confirmed by their cover of ‘Empire State of Mind’ with rapping wordsmith Mansour Ahmed placing his own King’s spin on the lyrics.  Once The Yapps smooth out musical technicalities, one mainly being the timing, and make their set tighter, alongside gaining more confidence by playing around the college scene, then The Yapps will be in bigger demand this time next year.  So watch this space.      

The EllaFunks: the giants of the Cambridge college band scene.  I wasn’t lucky enough to catch them at the May Balls, so with a Corona in one hand and a notepad in the other, I braced myself for what was going to be an electrifying night, and watch the professionals at work.  

Their opening cover of Nina Simone’s ‘Feeling Good’ oozed with pure sexiness, as well as ‘Son of a Preacher Man’, which made the crowd cry out for more.  But what really pleased me was the inclusion of their own song in the set, composed by the man behind the band Dominic Johnpillai.  It showed how not only can they do justice to great soul hits, but they can create their own original funk…perhaps the beginnings of an album?  Another Nina Simone hit followed, cooling off the audience ready for the enjoyable cover of ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours’, and ‘Let’s Get It On’ was simply an orgy of fun.  

Next followed a series of collaborative pieces with The Yapps.  The brass section of The EllaFunks was amazing in ‘Move on Up’, which crossed over to ‘Touch the Sky’ with Mansour replacing Kanye West.  I was particularly impressed by Ben Reeve on drums when he was given a short section to improvise, and also Shayan who looked (and sounded) as if she was really getting into the groove during the cover of Blu Cantrell and Sean Paul’s ‘Breathe’.  

The second half of The EllaFunks saw Miss Ella Jones give a note-perfect gutsy rendition of ‘Respect’, and the crowds were literally drenched in sex when it came to ‘I Just Want To Make Love To You’.  My favourite performances of the evening had to be their funk covers of more modern songs, particularly ‘Sweet Escape’, and also covering indie anthems like ‘Dreaming of You’ by The Coral.  I really enjoyed how they just slowed things right down in the middle section of the song, giving it a syncopated beat, allowing the brass players to show off their dance moves, which was highly reminiscent of The Specials.    

The evening was wrapped up with ‘Hey Ya’ where the crowds went absolutely crazy, violently demanding for one more song, which was given to them in the form of ‘Walking On Sunshine’.  Overall, The EllaFunks gave a sleek and enjoyable performance and I look forward to their future shows.