Posts Tagged ‘live review’

Live Review | ÌFÉ at London’s Rich Mix, September 23

Posted on October 13th, 2016 in Live, Recent posts, Reviews by .


Words by Liam Izod, photo by Mariángel Gonzales

On the strength of the release of just two music videos, Puerto Rican group ÌFÉ were able to command a packed crowd for their UK debut at London’s Rich Mix in Shoreditch. An impressive feat given that producer/percussionist Otura Mun’s group are hardly your typical commercial proposition. ÌFÉ offer an experimental vision of organic electronic music, alloyed with Yoruban theology, the religion in which Mun is a babalao (priest).

Dressed in matching robe-like white shirts and kufi hats, and all sporting large headphones, ÌFÉ’s four percussionists looked like they had come direct from a silent disco at a theological conference. The somewhat shambolic impression carried through to the music. Clave rhythms ricocheted across the stage, triggering murky electro blips and plonks, by means of sensors rigged to the percussion. One woodblock –gaffer taped and trailing a cable – had the appearance of an improvised explosive, but ÌFÉ’s grooves were far from incendiary.

The group’s vocals were a highlight though, with every member singing in powerful chorus. It felt devotional at times, and clearly resonated with many in the audience, whether they understand the lyrics or not. Singer Kathy Cepeda cut a particularly charismatic figure, growling into the mic and exhorting the audience to dance.

While not revolutionary, ÌFÉ’s UK live debut had a raucous raw energy. As the group develop, there may be more than just the Shoreditch-istas at Rich Mix who will want to join Otura Mun’s groove infused guerilla movement.

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Live Review | Tarabband, Rich Mix, London July 22

Posted on August 3rd, 2016 in Recent posts by .

Tarabband ©MiriamAbdullaWords and photo by Miriam Abdulla

Tarabband’s frontwoman, Nadin Al Khalidi, greeted the audience with “salam alekum”  (‘peace be upon you’), which also happens to be the title of their opening song. The Arab majority audience cheered, replying with an excited “walaikum salam!” The ninth song from their new album, ‘Salam Alekum’ was an aptly chosen response to the current troubled times and set the absorbing tone of the evening.

Having grown up during the Iraq-Iran war in the 1980s, Al Khalidi chronicled real-life stories of people affected by the war. Each story, translated into song, bears with it the feeling of pain, suffering, loss and sorrow. The simplicity of the verses accompanied by the buoyant sounds of the saz and mandole (lutes) delivered a moving portrayal of the emotions felt by Al Khalidi and her chosen subjects of war.

But for Al Khalidi, the crudeness of her songs – she reflected on “how the roots of my heart sound” – required something else to bring the stories home to the audience. Determined to instil the message of her songs, she validated each with a brief introduction.

Halfway through their set, Tarabband changes tone, breaking the sullen mood of her narration, Al Khalidi introduced the story of Yasmin, a young girl lost to war. Via Yasmin, she reminded us to celebrate the memories of the children of war and to reflect upon them as inspiration to help us become better people.

Despite the underlying solemnity of the evening’s performance, the audience remained upbeat – dancing, clapping and cheering. In keeping with their name – tarab meaning ‘ecstasy through music’ – the night climaxed with an old favourite demanded by loyal fans – ‘Baghdad Choby’.

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Live Review | AR Rahman Greatest Hits, August 15

Posted on August 20th, 2015 in Live, Recent posts by .

ar rahman

AR Rahman returned to London to perform his Greatest Hits
Photos by Nicky Kelvin

London’s O2 Arena was abuzz with anticipation – it was Indian Independence Day and one of the country’s most prolific composers was in town for the first time in five years to perform his greatest hits. Before the concert there were film screenings, Indian street food stalls and free dancing lessons – I’m pretty sure I nailed the ‘Jai Ho’ choreography like a pro, though pictures might suggest otherwise. It made for a great day out, but it was the evening’s performance that I was particularly looking forward to.

Rahman is known for his brilliant fusion of Indian classical and electronic music. He has scored an unbelievably long list of films and won countless awards, including two Oscars – Best Original Score and Best Original Song – for Slumdog Millionaire. A musical genius he may be, but unfortunately Rahman had all the stage presence of a man coerced into singing karaoke, especially when he left the refuge of his piano to sing at the front of the stage, reading the lyrics from his iPad. Beyond the set, which was very well designed, and Rahman’s various glittery outfits, there wasn’t much else of the glitz and glamour of Bollywood to be found in the performance. There was a single dancer who made a couple appearances throughout the night, but more importantly the atmosphere fell short of the ostentatiousness of Bollywood. The guest playback singers including Javed Ali, Karthik, Haricharan, Jonita Gandhi and Hriday Gattani didn’t have a lot more charisma, though Neeti Mohan managed show some feisty attitude for the rockier tunes.

There was definitely an impressive range of music on show – from beautiful, acoustic qawwali to songs that definitely channeled hard-core metal. And yet, it is a shame that his two biggest hits (at least for his UK audiences), ‘Jai Ho’ and ‘Chaiyya Chaiyya’, only made very brief appearances in an odd encore medley. All in all there was some excellent music on show, but it fell a bit short of expectations.

However, the after party at the O2’s Brooklyn Bowl with DJ sets from Panjabi Hit Squad and Raj & Pablo definitely managed to redeem the evening – I even managed to show off a couple of my moves from the dance class!


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Quantic and Alice Russell wowed and wooed at KOKO, May 2 2012

Posted on May 12th, 2012 in Recent posts, Reviews by .

Words by Olivia Haughton

I’ve never seen KOKO so packed. That’s possibly because I’ve only been there a couple of times, but let’s ignore that for now and focus on the point at hand: it really was rammed. We were all there to see two artists, successful as individuals and now collaborating as a dynamic duo. I’m talking about Quantic and Alice Russell.

This gutsy soulster and quirky musician, DJ and producer are no strangers to one another, having worked on several projects together in the past decade. This, their first exclusive collaboration, is driven by the release of Look Around the Corner, a fully-charged album with no shortage of hard-hitting soul and bluesy numbers.

Russell’s onstage charisma is as sparkly as her glittered top and her personality as big as her voice. And this is a voice that has been compared to the likes of Amy Winehouse and Adele, since it emerged in 2004 with her debut album, Under The Munka Moon. Showing her true soul-sister colours, Russell wooed the crowd with her dance moves and wowed us with belters like ‘Pushing On’ and ‘Su Suzy.’

Quantic, aka Will Holland, left the talking to Russell and concentrated on channelling melodies through his fingertips, which skipped over the keys of the accordion and plucked at the strings of a guitar. Holland’s superb playing, backed by his band, Combo Bárbaro, complemented the fullness of Russell’s voice and provided just a hint of a Latin undercurrent beneath the funk and soul vibe.

Holland came into his own playing accordion in the 80s classic ‘Golden Brown,’ transporting us to a little French bistro in the backstreets of Paris (one with an excellent taste in live music, of course). Standout ‘Magdalena’ made an impression with smokey vocals while ‘Road To Islay’ lent a party vibe to the set. ‘Simmer Down’ can only described as sexy and seductive thanks to Russell’s sensuous delivery, Holland’s epic guitar playing and the inspired addition of Mike Simmonds on mandolin.

Sadly KOKO’s sound system left a little to be desired with its bottom-heavy bias and Holland’s presence was, if anything, a little too understated. We heard his brilliant playing, but I wanted to see him step out of the shadows for a little longer. The shining star of the night was undoubtedly Alice Russell and her dazzling voice, no, personality, no, top, no, everything…

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