Thursday, September 27, 2012

Zoo For You and Nuru Kane

Sunday 19th August, 2012... this was a few weeks ago

Leonie Evans had been scheduled to come down and play in our little woodland amphitheatre that evening, but ended up having to cancel. We hope to reschedule in September. But just as well she had to cancel, because I wouldn't have wanted anyone to miss this. People will be talking about this one for years to come.

A hot sunny summer day (a rarity this summer)...I cycled through the woods to Whitstable, sat out on Tankerton Slopes looking out to sea for a while — cold lager and fragrant herbs — then headed down to the Duke of Cumberland. It was another gig organised by the Smugglers Records crew, but most of them couldn't be there, as Cocos Lovers were playing at their favourite festival (besides their own) — Green Man in the Brecon Beacons.

Being a Sunday, things started a bit earlier than usual. The Duke's been converted into a workable venue, with doors opening out from the side onto the outdoor terrace space, so it was a kind of half-outdoors feel.

Zoo For You started off, with another magnificent set of Afro-inspired grooves and vocal weirdness from Bruno Burton (an increasingly confident and capable frontperson, as well as being part of their horn section). Andrew Prowse (bass) and Josh Magill (drums) comprise a mighty, yet effervescent, rhythm section, got everyone moving in the heat. You couldn't not dance. The PA was a bit distorted during their set, but it only added a kind of mid-70s African lo-fi feel to the sound. Benji's still depping for Owen on tenor sax (I think he'll be back soon though), doing a great job there. This band feel like an increasingly sharp knife. I know they're struggling a bit to keep things moving and evolving (eight young men trying to find common creative ground can never be easy), but they should know that it's worth all the effort — this was superb, highly original, yet extremely danceable music. Great to see Josh's grandparents there enjoying it too!

I think there may have been one new piece (I was locked into a conversation at the bar for a few minutes, so couldn't tell), but mostly it was their album Fast Dance On A Nail that got played. I know they are working on new stuff, though — look forward to hearing that soon.


By the time Nuru Kane came on, the sound had been sorted (excellent work from John E as usual), everything sounded great. Despite the heat, the energy stayed high throughout. He has a real presence, and the BFG (Bayefall Gnawa?) band he's assembled (superbly intricate and joyful kora playing, pounding guimbri plus calabash, gnawa percussion and a bit of well-placed electric and acoustic guitar) is the perfect framework for him to work in. The whole place was dancing, not your typical Sunday afternoon in Whitstable. And a particularly lovely crowd showed up for this one (this is what happens when the Smugglers Crew interface with the current scene in the Canterbury area). No animosity or posturing anywhere to be seen, a real festival atmosphere.

Having not blogged for a while, there's a bit of a backlog of live music memories composting somewhere in the substrata of my mind. One day it'll all be a happy blur, no doubt, but this one is probably going to be etched into my (and a lot of other people's) memory for years to come.


Post a Comment

<< Home