Snarky Puppy Concert Review: Paris, France, June 29, 2019

This show in Paris was very special. This was less of a Snarky Puppy show and more of a Karim Ziad and Maalem Hamid El Kasri show. The Gnaouas musicians from Morocco joined the Pup’s a year after their first encounter in June 2018 and played a total of four drastically reworked songs together from the S.P catalogue as well as some favorites from Culcha Vulcha and Immigrance without the Gnaouas musicians. The energy throughout this show was just next level. I haven’t heard a crowd giving so much energy to the band before. This really helps loosen the nerves and jitters of everyone on stage and so everyone in SP plays their absolute best. Incredible! Thank you, Paris!


GØ – Louis starts this one off on drums like usual however, he plays with higher energy immediately rather than starting gently. His chops are outstanding here and he also showcases some amazing lyricism by using the differently pitched toms to his advantage which creates the impression of a melody. He fades away into a wash of cymbals before starting the main groove. Bob follows with a searing, overdriven tone soon after with the distinctive melody. The horns play their harmonized melody with accompaniment from just the percussion section. The bassline comes in strong with some help from Bobby on the clav and Justin’s rhythmic Rhodes chords. Louis’ groove is a little sparser than usual here. Bob adds some sustained, drone notes just before the solo section. Maz goes nuts with his wah and trumpet in the solo section and plays some very melodic lines. Bob doubles the bassline 2 octaves up with a ton of embellishments and ornamentation to give it lots of characters. Maz finds a note he likes and repeats it with varying articulation which is further enhanced by the expressiveness and control of the wah pedal. Things fade into the middle section which is very quiet this time. An audience member sings along to the bassline; very funny. Marcelo’s bongo work gets showcased quite nicely here. Bob doubles the flute and muted trumpet melody down the octave giving it more depth. Justin takes the solo on Rhodes here, and after only a few bars, a group of people in the audience shout ‘Go Justin!’ in time with the song! I’m amazed by the audience’s interaction with the music here. A rowdy, but very musical crowd I think. Justin starts delicately before jumping onto some more rhythmic and out there harmonic lines with his insane reharmonization skills and rhythmic sense. Louis mirrors much of what he plays creating a very dynamic and conversation-like solo section. The energy doesn’t spike as heavily here towards the end like it normally does, but it’s still very groovy. Mike starts playing some chords with his bassline; very similar to what he played on the Wolfisheim show. The return to the A section some rhythmic single note lines from Bob before he plays the melody with the horns. He takes the final solo with a very crispy, overdriven tone and uses his upper register to maximum effect. He gets very bluesy in this one. Towards the end, he cranks on the Auto Wah pedal and plays some lines that closely resemble the outro horn melody. The groove bubbles away to the end where the fade-out gets atmospheric with help from Bobby and Justin.

While We’re Young – Mike starts this one off as soon as finishes with the distinctive, palm-muted bassline. Louis joins shortly after with a very simple drum groove with just the snare and bass drum. Bobby plays some double stops with his clavinet melody giving it more power! The audience sure does love this and he gets a generous applause from the more attentive (yet rowdy) audience members. The horns melody is very lush thanks to lots of reverb and delay from Maz and Chris. For the B section, Justin harmonizes with Bob’s slide melody on the prophet and Shaun adds some groovy Mellotron chords as well to give it a real 80’s feel. The chorus section is fairly gentle but features lots of ambient and washy chords. The solo section is nice and ambient and starts off very quietly. Mike’s bassline is heavily simplified and so is Louis’ groove. Bobby takes a beautiful and motivic solo on the clav. He repeats himself often and chooses a very aggressive, overdriven tone with some added phaser and wah (maybe a treble booster too to give it some edge). He is playing very heavily and energetically earlier on than usual, for reasons that will now be explained. He wasn’t the only one taking the solo here! Halfway through the solo section, Bobby switches to organ and plays some nice rhythmic accompanying figures along with some more ambient mellotron action from Shaun. Bob takes over with solo duties here on the guitar. He starts gently with lots of sustained chords, further enhancing the ambient nature of this tune. He picks it up towards the end and throws in a handful of overdriven and bluesy licks. He continues solo into the return of the horn melody before switching to the usual slide guitar role. Louis kicks things into high gear here and starts smashing away at the cymbals. Bob takes another quick solo in between the horn melody like usual. The outro is lush and ambient once again as Justin prepares the prophet for the next song.

Tarova – Those who have followed these reviews since the beginning would probably remember an instance of this happening. Justin’s prophet was again slightly underpitched. He switches to the Rhodes temporarily when he notices this. Mike comes in strong with his sub-octave bassline, and Shaun and Bobby do their magic with the trading section. Bobby sticks to the organ whilst Shaun uses his vocoder (maybe the talkbox). When the two of them play the melody, they keep it fairly similar rhythmically to the original version rather than bending the time and playing behind the beat. After another round of trading and the horns playing the melody. Bob comes in strongly with a wall of reverb for his once every 2 bars chord. This signals the start of the main groove and part of the tune. The unison is less ambient than usual as Justin’s prophet appears to be out of action whilst he works out the pitch issues. He switches the Rhodes for the solo section to give the soloist more to work with. Chris takes a virtuosic and very funky solo on the tenor saxophone here with some chorus-like sound thanks to the use of a quick modulated delay. The groove picks up dramatically here largely thanks to Louis and Bobby. Chris gets some time alone with Louis and Marcelo and the crowd goes nuts with the chants! Bobby and Mike add a few groovy basslines here and there and things go Tower of Power. The band returns and Chris’ tasteful lines continue. The outro is super funky and features Bob’s reverb-drenched chords once again. Mike says hello to the crowd and introduces the very special Gnaouas musicians from Morocco!

Binky – This version of Binky sounds nothing like any other version you’ve ever heard. It starts with a completely new, very floaty (rhythmically speaking) bassline on the Guembri, a small three-stringed bass instrument. Louis, Marcelo and Karim join in with some percussion and later follows Hamid with his spectacularly rich voice. Bob and Bobby add some ambient soundscapes here and things get weird harmonically. Chris takes a very out there flute solo with a ton of delay and reverb. The band builds up and up dynamically. The main melody of Binky has made no appearance as of yet! Mike joins Hamid with the bassline and Justin takes a lyrical and very out there trumpet solo. Bob delicately plucks around the bridge with some tremolo creating a very lush sound. The song continues to build and then when you’d least expect it, a transposed A section Binky melody emerges! This is the only quotation of Binky in this song. No other melody is referenced throughout. I think them labelling this as Binky is a bit silly, but this was a really amazing piece of music nevertheless. The dynamics subtract and the singers (led by Hamid) come back in. Bob’s tremolo riddled guitar playing is sublime here. The Snarky horns add some more backing figures with some harmonized long tones. The transposed Binky melody makes another appearance as the piece builds again. Things speed up quite dramatically towards the end and the groove gets really intense. Bob keeps things together with ‘Shofukan’ like arpeggios. Justin harmonies with the melody as the tempo continues to climb. By the end, it’s so fast it’s ridiculous! The blend of the keyboards and Bob on guitar is just incredible. Snarky Puppy drops out and Hamid, Karim and the Gnaouas musicians are left alone to close the tune with some polyrhythms and the Guembri bassline. Louis emerges for the last time with the snare drum, and the horns play some final backing figures (unrelated to binky and more staccato). Bob ends things with a wash of tremolo.

Quarter Master – This one starts off with a very similar Guembri bassline and polyrhythmic accompaniment from the percussion. There’s again essentially zero resemblance to Quarter Master. Hamid’s singing is so soulful and is full of character. The percussionists also join him singing with a dynamic call and response section. Louis, Marcelo, Mike and Bob are the first Snarky Puppy people to join the Gnaouas musicians. They play a swampy groove with Bob and Mike doubling the Guembri bassline. Shaun joins in with some super tasty ragtime sounding piano. The horns come in with a non-transposed melody this time as the tune is already in D minor. Chris plays the flute here rather than sax for a change. After the melody, Shaun takes the solo with an acoustic piano sound on the keyboard. The Snarky horns play some new backing figures and the groove grows immensely. Shaun quotes ‘Flight of the Bumblebee’ a little bit here as well as showcases his unbelievable classic jazz piano chops. He’s a very versatile musician, as is everyone in SP. The intensity drops down slightly and the Gnaouas musicians take over with some very special group singing. The horns play the complete Quarter Master melody again with some added harmonies and then fade out on the high pitched screech note at the end. Bobby doubles the bassline temporarily on the organ to give it more depth. The Gnaouas musicians take over and the tempo speeds up once again. After a short break of just the Guembri bassline, the band returns with some rhythmic stabs and a key change. Hamid’s singing keeps things going and the audience sings along to the rhythmic stabs and eventually, the band drops out. Hamid leads the band into a very energetic outro with a polyrhythmic call and response between the singers. This was an amazing listen!

Koubali – This one is also in D minor… and features a similar Geumbri bassline. It starts with the percussion and drums and some textural flute playing from Chris. The Guembri bassline starts things off and Bob soon joins in with a very busy high pitched melody on the guitar. The whole band plays a unison melody together against the driving rhythmic background. Hamid and his band continue their soulful singing. Bob plays some nice accompanying chords against the dense polyrhythmic soundscape. Mike takes over the bassline for a while leaving Hamid free to sing his heart out. After another round of rhythmic stabs from the whole band. Bobby takes a very funky solo on the clavinet with a load of overdrive and wah. The groove picks up enormously here! Louis joins in with a half-time feeling groove against the polyrhythms. Bobby switches to the organ for a more classic sound and goes nuts. His chops are so amazing. The horns come in with some backing figures. This song is such a party for everyone. Definitely one of the coolest things I’ve ever heard from Snarky Puppy. Bobby brings his solo to a close and Hamid and his crew sing a mix of intricate melodies and the band reprises the original melody once again. Very, very special.

Palermo – The Gnaouas musicians leave the stage for this one. Bobby starts this one off like usual, but this time Justin adds some rhythmic Rhodes chords underneath him before playing his arpeggios an octave lower than usual. Bob comes in with his palm-muted and delay heavy arpeggios and the crowd begins clapping. Mike’s bassline is very heavy largely thanks to the octave pedal. The band calms down and Maz plays the melody very gently on the flugelhorn with some washy delay which adds a nice modulation to the sound. The groove is huge yet so subtle dynamically; shows just how good of a song this is (Thanks Marcelo!). The solo section begins with a different groove to usual. Louis keeps things simpler than usual. After the usual horn melody, Bob takes a very overdriven and melodic solo (similar to Eric Johnson in tone). He uses the lower register of the guitar for the first part of the solo and focuses heavily on the tone and articulation of his phrases. He turns on the tremolo towards the end and gets more out there with the note choices. He absolutely shreds at the very end and gets chordal too. The horns play some nice accompanying lines. Bobby, Shaun and Justin nail the accompaniment here. The interlocking arpeggio’s sit so perfectly together. Things fade out into Maz’s flugelhorn melody (which is sadly too quiet in this mix). Chris doubles it on saxophone after some more people join in the conversation to give it more presence. The outro is super lush thanks to all of the keyboards and pedals! Justin keeps an ambient and rhythmically driving Rhodes part going into Marcelo’s percussion solo for a change. It adds so much character to the song. Marcelo goes berserk with the Bombo here and the crowd helps keep him in time. He experiments heavily with the chacarera rhythm and generates an amazingly powerful sound.

Xavi – Mike introduces this song and explains that he wrote trying to sound Morrocan! This one starts off very fast but settles into something that the band can handle more easily. Chris’ flute melody is as haunting as usual. Bob’s two bar guitar break always gets some cheers. When the main groove returns Bobby doubles the bassline with a very aggressive clavinet sound. Some people in the audience try to sing along to the bassline. Maz uses the Harmon mute here. The B section is gentler than usual and features some insanely high C6 trumpet notes thanks to Justin. The chords are lush and Louis’ drumming is funky. Chris takes an incredible solo on the tenor with lots of delay. Justin jumps into the keyboard seat and plays the bassline with a very disco-like synth sound on the Prophet 6. Chris’ improvised melodies are hugely catchy and are executed flawlessly. My favorite solo of his on Xavi in recent memory! Justin’s synth bass allows Bobby to play some chordal accompaniment on the clav which makes the groove so much funkier as a result. The tempo climbs higher and higher. The next solo section is at a quieter dynamic thanks to Louis’ very simple drumming (mostly just the hi-hat). Shaun takes a virtuosic Moog solo here and pulls out all the stops! He plays hugely chromatic lines and by 5:15, Louis plays an insanely funky groove by anticipating every 3/4 crotchet and uses lots of cymbals to drive the energy. The B section is quieter again. Justin harmonizes the last note with a beautiful mellow trumpet sound. Marcelo’s percussion playing gets featured heavily in a short little break after this section. He pushes the tempo hugely here and Louis does so as well (it’s now as fast as the count in!). The audience seems to already know what to clap at this section without the need for Mike to explain! Mike and Bullock come in with the flute melody and bassline and then the band builds things up into the outro solo. Justin plays a very energetic and funky Rhodes solo here with a very dry sound which brings out lots of his staccato articulation. He was on fire this show! He plays some staccato rhythmic stabs with his left hand and some very fast semiquaver lines with his right hand. I can’t really explain well enough what he was pulling off in this solo, so you’d have to buy it! There’s a large amount of rhythmic displacement, that much can be said. The horn melody returns and the tempo somehow manages to climb further. The outro is super high energy and features a really aggressive prophet 6 sound for the unison melody on top of the horn accompaniment and polyrhythmic base. The last chord is sustained and the audience goes nuts. Every single name of every person on stage gets a gigantic applause when mentioned by Mike. The energy throughout this show is unreal.

Lingus (Encore) – This version features the Gnaouas musicians once again and is like no other version of Lingus. It starts with Bob’s guitar melody that is usually located in the middle of the tune. Hamid doubles it down 2 octaves on the Guembri. After this the horns play the first two notes of the melody and then following on, Louis begins the tunes main groove. Instead of the usual Lingus bassline, there is a brand new one that is doubled by Bob, Mike and Hamid across multiple octaves. Hamid, Karim and the rest of the Gnaouas musicians sing a call and response with each other before the Snarky horns come in with a transposed Lingus A section melody. Other 2 repetitions the melody is transposed again, but into the original key of E minor. The B section is more polyrhythmic than usual and features some washy organ and Rhodes from Bobby and Justin respectively. The A section returns with the original drum groove and the new bassline. Bobby and Justin play some very Michael Jackson Thriller inspired chords and synth pad-like accompaniment. Hamid, Karim and the crew have another go at singing their traditional lyrics. The SP horns play the melody again, 2 times transposed down a major second, then once at the original key of E minor, then a final time in D minor. Justin reharmonizes things heavily with the Rhodes. The B section gets lots of dissonant chords from Justin on the Rhodes and a really heavy, sub-octave bassline from Mike. After a final playing of Bob’s guitar melody, the band enters the famous solo section. Hamid doubles the original Lingus bassline here and Bobby takes an incredible organ solo with lots of modal licks. The band doesn’t play as dynamically as usual here, and it doesn’t take long for Bobby to get cooking. Louis opens up the hi-hats for a washier sound and Bobby gets chordal and pulls out the drawbars helping give this section as much energy as possible. After this, the horns skip to rhythmic stabs that normally occur at the end of the tune. This then segues into a sped-up version of the new Guembri bassline that we heard at the start of this piece. The band reprises at this new tempo and bassline is simplified to suit the faster tempo. Louis goes cymbal smashing and Hamid begins his soulful singing once again with help from his fellow musicians. He gets interactive with the crowd for a bit, the band drops out here. When the band returns the energy hits an all-time high. The SP horns add some new backing figures and Louis continues the cymbal heavy drumming. Hamid gets some more time alone with the crowd, and this time Justin adds some washy Rhodes chords alongside his singing. The band reprises for the last time on the same groove and the band stops on the final hit from the SP horns rhythmic stabs. No sustained chords here, just an abrupt ending! Wow. Just wow. What a special show!


  • Chris Bullock – tenor sax, flute, and alto flute
  • Mike “Maz” Maher – trumpet and flugelhorn
  • Justin Stanton – trumpet and keyboards
  • Bobby Sparks – keyboards
  • Shaun Martin – keyboards
  • Bob Lanzetti – guitar
  • Michael League – bass
  • Louis Cato – drums
  • Marcelo Woloski – percussion

Special Guests on Binky, Quarter Master, Koubaili and Lingus:

  • Maalem Hamid El Kasri, Gnaouas Musicians, and Karim Ziad

Sound Crew:

  • Matt Recchia – monitors
  • Michael Harrison – engineering and sound (front of house)
  • Nic Hard – mixing

About the Reviewer

Howdy readers. I’m Simon. Since 2016 I’ve slowly become enveloped in the world of Snarky Puppy. My obsession started a few minutes into the first song they played at the Melbourne 2017 show (Flood); my first live Snarky experience. Since then, I’ve spent countless hours listening to their albums, live shows and various interviews/articles with/on the band.

What really stuck with me after seeing them perform live was just how powerful – sonically – a large band can be when everything is orchestrated in such a way, especially with three keyboardists on stage. What also surprised me was just how much fun everyone appeared to be having on stage; I never ever expected so much jamming!

On, I will primarily be writing reviews of my vast and growing Live Snarky and album collection in hopes that my writing will inspire some purchases along the way. All of the money spent on or will go directly to Snarky Puppy’s members, which will in turn support them while they can continue to do what they do best. And… hopefully fund Family Dinner Volume 3.