Will Holland, aka Quantic, took to the stage of the O2 Academy on a rainy Friday evening in March, for the Bristol Jazz and Blues Festival. Alongside his all-star band and long-time collaborator Alice Russell, the musician and producer brought a melting pot of soul, funk, jazz and salsa to Bristol.
With such a massive back catalogue of music at his fingertips, Holland has been pushing genres and keeping people moving since the early noughties. And with a crowd that couldn’t stay still, one could see that his music certainly hasn’t lost any impact. Between Holland and his band it was practically impossible to not be swaying along with the entire of the O2 Academy – from front and center, and all the way up the stairs, which was lined with pulsating Quantic fans.
Now when a pint is £5.10, the music had better be good. Thankfully, between the soulful chords of Russell, and Holland skillfully switching it up with his guitar and accordion, bar trips were few and far between. Although if more visits were required, the rammed venue would not have made that easy for us – I would not have been surprised if Quantic had played at the larger Colston Hall stage instead, like Macy Gray did on the Saturday of the Bristol Jazz and Blues fest.
Alice Russell added something special to the evening with her amazing vocals and commanding stage presence. Alongside Holland’s insanely talented band, the three backing singers and a pianist who was unashamedly playing up to the Bristol crowd, both Russell and Holland were adept at dipping out of something jazzy and straight into a funky soul beat, all the while keeping their audience captivated.
Both Russell and Holland were adept at dipping out of something jazzy and straight into a funky soul beat, all the while keeping their audience captivated.
Playing songs like I’ll Keep My Light in My Window and Pushin’ On, the eight-strong band were so well-practised together that it almost turned into an impromptu jam session. Each member getting the opportunity to showcase their musical prowess with animated solos, separating Quantic’s feel-good numbers, accompanied by a cheering crowd.
It all ended at just gone 10PM, but not before we were given one last showcase of what the band could really do. The last song was thankfully a long one; I’m fairly sure the O2 Academy would have had a riot on their hands if not. After a gig that encouraged whole swathes of the crowd to sing along to Quantic’s most well-known tunes, the majority of us didn’t really want to leave. But nevertheless, we exited into a standard Bristolian night that felt considerably more miserable, after the sights and sounds of a Quantic set.
Photography by Louise Roberts.