It is hard to believe that 20 years have gone by since the groundbreaking “Godsdog” album by Heidelberg-based De-Phazz. It was their second album (after “Detunized Gravity” from 1997), I was still working as a bartender in a hip Mexican restaurant in Kreuzberg (and played their music), but had already started my career in radio. Here I was in Kreuzberg again, 20 years later, where De-Phazz started their long tour to celebrate their 20th anniversary (it’s actually the 21st) and also showcased tracks from their “Black White Mono” album which was released earlier this year.
The band entered the stage at Lido shortly after 8pm and mastermind and group founder Pit Baumgartner set the mood for the next two hours or so. Singer Pat Appleton, sounding better than in the early years (and looking much better too), was responsible for the first part of the show and easily smoothed and swayed through old classics and the newer material. It was a delight to hear pieces like “The Mambo Craze” again, not having lost any of its immediacy and contagious energy. Whatever you want to call this melange of soul, pop, jazz, electronica, hipness, exotica and whatever, it is all about bringing joy, love, and a good time.
Singer Karl Frierson was next up on stage before the two joined for a few pieces and again, his takes on old faves like “Jazz Music” were just wonderful. He too seems to get better with time. As for the new album, the group stays true to their unique sound and with very soulful tracks like “As The World Turns”, they are also capable of treading new paths. Some pieces veer towards the burlesque, like “Foul & Miss”, a heavenly easy-listening piece with the signature bari sax which was also very present on stage. There is a breezy jazz trumpet on “May”, an intoxicating, sexy little ditty. And the bluesy guitar intro to “Esperance” makes way for a typical De-Phazz cut: moody, somewhat exotic, mysterious, and with a heavy dose of fun. “Spoiled” works well both on stage and off and takes you back to the late 90s while maintaining contemporary standards. It’s a wonder. And a pretty cool one. It’s probably why the Berlin audience didn’t want them to leave.
De-Phazz continue their tour. Make sure to check them out.