''It’s a second home,'' declared Herbie Hancock speaking about the Barbican as he scanned the hall challenging the audience to let him know whether they wanted the ''weird, crazy'' stuff he was about to offer up. ''Every audience wants that!'' He smiled. In a show getting on for two hours without an interval he got more energetic as it wore on after what he called ''the hors d'oeuvres'' of an 'Overture' and the quintet were certainly burning throughout in extended passages. Just about running the width of the stage by the end - fellow octogenarian Joe Biden would be hard pressed to follow suit with or without a keytar in his hands - the band roared along thanks to the rocket fuelled propulsion provided by drummer Jaylen Petinaud more than 55 years Herbie’s junior.
Highlights included trumpeter Terence Blanchard’s arrangement of Herbie’s great friend Wayne Shorter’s ‘Footprints’ and Herbie’s own classic ‘Actual Proof’. The leader perched at the Fazioli with Korg Kronos keys to the side as he alternated between the two, the great ex-Miles Davis player certainly exuded impish fun when he harnessed vocoder on 'Come Running To Me' from Sunlight an album he confessed hadn’t sold well and that critics were only so-so about. James Genus on bass guitar played a major role throughout and had a nice spot when he soloed late on improvising over his own real-time captured lines. Herbie had even more fun on keytar at the end joshing with guitarist-vocalist Lionel Loueke when the scale pushed higher and higher and Loueke had a pedal and a quirky squelch to match in an arm's race of special effects as the two masters sparred on 'Chameleon'. What larks. A spirited gig - Petinaud really powered everything hard and at times so funkily while Blanchard added a great many blistering touches that had both edge and bite. SG