Acting as a bridge between Suicidal Tendencies and Kamasi Washington, blur-limbed transformer Thundercat, born Stephen Bruner, has been colouring inside the lines of the visions of others – casting tempo-shuffling psych-jazz spells on-cue and indelibly shaping some of the most important works of the decade. However, influenced by the encouragement of twin jazz-head Flying Lotus, Bruner has quietly been crafting his own works, and with his latest 23-track acid-eater, Drunk, comes his most confident artistic statement. Sequin-covered and earthbound, Bruner tentatively takes to the stage, and although the evening promised a presentation of Thundercat’s intoxicated epic, the Los Angeles-born prodigy delivers a spliced, 12-faced monster – bleeding-out his upside-down interior world all over Manchester’s Albert Hall and into one near-uninterrupted, world-exiting voyage.

“Can I just stay one more day?” asks Bruner on journeying 8-bit dream ‘Tokyo’, where ‘Them Changes’ highlights the anime-overlord’s ability to focus his unspeakable talents into ultra-satisfying, air-tight pop. Although an explorative set tonally – darting from substance-drowned heartache to portents of post-death bliss in an effortless balance between the dramatic and the absurd, the musical excursions that flank shape and form truly colour the evening and grant the audience a disorientating insight into Bruner’s far-stretching imagination.

Hidden behind a wall of synthesisers, the unlikely duo of keyboardist Dennis Hamm and violinist Miguel Atwood-Ferguson keep the peace between a battling rhythm section – speaking in rabid, wild tongues and trading ideas with a hyper-elastic ferocity before the maddeningly surreal ‘A Fan’s Mail (Tron Song Suite II)’ invites a respectful audience to imagine what it is to be feline, with Bruner leading a chorus of meows – romanticising a carelessness that now seems somewhat unreachable under heavy political weather.

Deep telepathy anchors the master quartet, as they force time to stretch to their will – sacrificing the attention of the audience to tour subconscious musical wormholes, but ‘The Turn Down’ eventually acts as a sobering antidote to the psyche-swimming set, and sees Thundercat wonder if “everything we do is weak” – addressing the flailing nature of humanity, and maybe the thoughts that influence his own desire to reach dizzying heights as a musician, but Bruner perfectly surmises the evening in one of the few instances he steps out of his cosmic-bubble and understatedly addresses the audience: “Tight.”

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James Musker

Music Journalism student and lover of all things sensory and cosmic.