Matt Bianco. Gig review. 229 London, 9th April 2017

Having been an admirer of Mark Reilly since 1984’s “Whose Side Are You On?” album, the one with Basia, Danny White and “that” song, it was with some trepidation that I read last year that Reilly was collaborating with the Dutch group, the New Cool Collective. Ok, so the album is new and cool with great tunes – but would it cut it live?

The eight-strong New Cool Collective took to the stage to kick off with two fiery instrumentals. They might call themselves cool but these guys are seriously hot on stage.

The intensity rose a notch when the sharp-suited Reilly came on stage to “We Should Be Dancing” and any lingering doubts about this new affiliation were immediately dispelled. He followed with “The Things You Love”, a swinging rendition of “Whose Side?” and a storming “Yeh Yeh” which outshines the Georgie Fame version, recorded or live.  The 16-song set included 8 tracks from last year’s album, interspersed with some of the best Matt Bianco classics.

Mid-set Reilly took a break and the Collective, ably led by Benjamin Herman, kept the tempo up with two more short and sharp instrumentals before Reilly returned to the stage for a quite wonderful version of “More Than I Can Bear” with intense emotion. Four more songs from “The Things You Love” followed, five if you count the Matt Bianco classic “Don’t Blame It On That Girl” which also appears on last year’s album.

A short break and then the encore of “that” song. If you don’t know which one I’m surprised that you’ve read this far.

Reilly has had three main collaborations since forming Matt Bianco, with White and Trzetrzelewska (including the supercool 2004 reunion album), with Mark Fisher who sadly passed away in December 2016, and now the New Cool Collective. All three collaborations shine. Good job he got up out of his lazy bed otherwise Latin-influenced popular music would have been far the poorer. Count Me In.

Matt Bianco setlist 9th April 2017 LondonMark Reilly and cool collective. London April 2017