Not even half-way in, the mere mention of 2020 sends a shudder down the spine. This is already a year for the history books that sit on the dustiest shelves in the library. As if being an artist isn’t tough enough in the best of times, in the space of a few months the live music scene has been decimated; gig-goers have been reduced to wistfully binging on YouTube videos, longing for those magical, unique moments and “that thing we used to do”; and artists have become bemused as to why the emergency government voted against support for the self-employed.
So it is with apprehension and disbelief that we find ourselves at the Barby awaiting the arrival of the perfect antidote to pull us out of this dire mire. Full Trunk is surely Israel’s ultimate party band. Their catchy, funky grooves fuse classical and modern influences with the odd Middle-Eastern lick and simple, rousing lyrics.
Reminders of the new reality abound. We write our contact details on paper slips on our seats, and we’ve been asked not to move around the venue unnecessarily. Very un-Israeli, but a sign of the times. Israel and adversity are close bedfellows, yet this invisible enemy is up there with its biggest challenges.
Full Trunk appears on the stage, which is configured in the round as befits this special occasion. The enthusiastic applause is thick with desire and relief: No pressure, merely carrying the expectations of a loyal, hungry following.
Fittingly, the band launches into “Damn Right,” a song about the adrenaline and atmosphere of playing live, in the vein of Cheap Trick’s “Hello There” or Thunder’s “Welcome to the Party.” Don’t be fooled by the shallow appearance of these songs; they’re arranged and produced to press your buttons and get you moving.
Next up is “Show Us What You Got,” a catchy, groovy bite-size anthem, of which the band seems to have an endless supply. Charismatic singer/guitarist Gal Nisman belts out the call to action, voice breaking and straining with energy and passion. As in the best of times, the band is grooving, the crowd is jumping, and all’s right with the world.
We go on a journey through the band’s considerable back catalogue, and just when things start to feel a tad similar, the slow, smoky, sexy atmosphere of “Going Home” blends into an extended guitar solo, which sounds like, and is, Pink Floyd’s “High Hopes,” a tribute to one of the myriad influences of this genre-hopping band. Later, the beautiful, moody “As a Stone” reinforces the value of slowing down and creating a sense of dynamics.
Full Trunk has the ingredients to get a crowd bouncing on any stage anywhere in the world, and the potential to go as far as fate will take them. Although the band is not a go-to for deep listening with a glass of wine in a candlelit room, in these hallucinatory times, they are a welcome reminder of the less obvious: a soundtrack for chilling out and enjoying the moment, just because.