Live Review: Meters’ drummer Zigaboo Modeliste’s only UK date

IF I was a drumming legend, when sourcing a site for my sole UK gig of the year Croydon might not be top of the list. As a member of funk pioneers The Meters, Zigaboo Modeliste is used to playing gritty New Orleans clubs – and stadiums supporting The Rolling Stones. But in a bizarre coup, there he was on stage, in a converted art gallery at Fairfield Halls. Kicking off with the unmistakable Cissy Strut, the grooves came thick and fast; Modeliste a whirlwind of power and technique, pounding away with the clout of a rocker and the control of a jazzer. Playing with pick-up band The Coalminers – a London quintet of scruffy young white chaps – the aging legend directed things from the front left of the stage. The drums were not driving the music, so much as were the music, the riffs just a vehicle for Modeliste’s hurricane virtuosity. But with the funk so thick it would coax a head nod from a coma victim, the night was so much more than a showcase of musical chops, with Meters’ classics like Chicken Strut and Look-Ka Py Py stimulating a wave of gyrating bodies in front of the stage. “They may not be invited, but they’re in spirit” said Modeliste, leading a pointed tribute to his ex-band mates. But whoever’s to blame for the forefathers’ fallout, tonight was all about Zigaboo, and the continuing verve and fire of his playing and personality gave the warm feeling of sharing an evening in the company of a legend.

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