Jalapeno Records and Soul Casserole joined forces for the first ever Jalapeno Bop at The Old Market on Saturday, featuring Gizelle Smith, Smoove & Turrell and The Allergies, in what can go down as a rousing success and, above all, proof that people still have a hunger and an insatiable urge for everything funk and soul. From the opening to the closing of the doors people rocked up and danced in their hundreds on a night with a wonderful, atmospheric vibe.
Soul Casserole, the club night famed for its funky parties that go long into the night, DJ’d throughout the night playing a mix of everything funky from the 50s onwards. From Northern soul, Motown, blues, jazz, soul and reggae, they played something for everyone and certainly accomplished their job of getting people on the dancefloor. Throughout the night they kept the crowd partying. It was a night that never had any troughs, just peaks – and many of them.
Gizelle Smith was the first live act of the evening. Jalapeno Records’ latest signing thrilled the crowd with her funk and soul vibe. It was her last two songs, ‘Sweet Memories’ and ‘S.T.A.Y.’, that showed her at her best. The debut double A-side single sounded organic, charismatic and beautifully honest. The Mancunian showed instantly that she will no doubt go on to be a vital part of Jalapeno Records and will slot in seamlessly to their ethos and mentality.
The live headliner of the night came from tour-de-force Northern Soul group Smoove & Turrell, who were every bit the headliner they can be. Playing a stunning 14-song set, they proved why they’re loved up and down the country. There’s a pure, virtuous vibe that descends on their gigs. They may have been on at ten o’clock in the evening in December but they always make it feel like it’s the peak of a summer’s day.
In a set that mostly came from their latest album Crown Posada, it showed what great songwriters they are. A highlight came from their cover of Hot Chocolate’s ‘You Could’ve Been a Lady’ and ‘No Point in Trying’, which sound more like American funk in the vein of Chic with its sleek bassline and rhythm guitar. However, it was biggest hit ‘Will You Be Mine’, from 2014’s Broken Toys, that received the biggest reaction of the night. With its catchy electronic beat and old school synth sounds, it had people singing along, dancing and, even at one point, joining them on stage for the politest stage invasion I’ve ever seen.
After Smoove & Turrell it was impossible to be anything but positive and a DJ set from Bristol’s The Allergies carried that vibe on. If anything their DJ set encapsulated everything good about The Jalapeno Bop. Ultimately, it was a congregation of funk and soul lovers and the big hitters of the genre for a night that had strangers linking arms, the young and old partying together and hundreds of people singing into the night. Bring on The Jalapeno Bop 2!