Sunday, 1 December 2019

On Stage: Jungle By Night

I remember when I saw Jungle By Night for the first time. It was a free performance at the traveling theatre festival De Parade and must have been around nine years ago. Nine teenagers played refreshing and swinging afrobeat songs and I loved it. The boys have grown up and are now celebrating their tenth anniversary.

Jungle By Night at Paradiso Amsterdam, November 28 2019

They looked quite shy back then and a little surprised by the enthusiastic response they were getting from all the people who were dancing to their music. Afrobeat wasn't exactly a hip music genre at the time but had a bit of an old fashioned image. I'd like to think that this band had a part in changing that, transforming it into a modern and exciting music genre, loved by many young people. Tonight the band is partying, celebrating ten years of hard work that paid off. Since the band is traveling the world now, playing lots of shows, making people dance all around the globe.

Their music has transformed as well, exploring new grounds, from seventies funk to psychedelic and space disco. Many of the band members have attended music colleges and all have grown into incredible musicians. Now the young men aren's shy any more, but stand on stage with a lot of confidence and a ton of experience. Fortunately not everything has changed, because the youthful enthusiasm and sheer joy in playing and performing their music together is still there, judging from the happy faces on stage.

It's a delight to see this band play and to have witnessed it grow into this well-oiled hot swinging groove machine it is today. Every single one of them gets a moment in the spot lights today and they all eagerly take this moment to shine. The horns section is of course very important and boy, trumpet player Bo Floor's sound is amazing. The engine of this band is without a doubt the rhythm section that makes sure the groove never stops. There's a lot of percussion which lifts this groove even more and spices up the music.

Guitar player Jac van Exter and keys player Pyke Pasman add the sparkle, that pinch of magic which is the icing on this tasteful cake. Tonight the band makes this cake even more tastier, turning it into a proper birthday cake. They play for more than two hours and turn the sold out venue into a true dancing party, a lovely celebration of their music. Everyone inside is more than willing to party with them and dance to the irresistible grooves. Fortunately the band assures us they still have no intension to slow down and promises to celebrate their next anniversary in ten years time again on this same spot. Of course I'm so there!

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Friday, 22 November 2019

On Stage: Temples @ THT

Ever since psych rock band Temples released their debut LP Sun Structures back in 2014 I've been keeping an eye on this band. I like their music a lot but the one time I saw them play at Best Kept Secret I wasn't really convinced about their live performance. Now they have their third record out, Hot Motion, which is full of great psych rock and pop songs once again. Time to see them play live again.

Temples at Paradiso Tolhuistuin Amsterdam, November 18 2019

By now the band officially is a trio, without a permanent drummer after Samuel Toms left the band in 2018. The band was already touring with Dutch drummer Rens Ottink, who you may know from his band PAUW. Clearly he brought a few friends with him tonight, who want to see him play. Ottink is a worthy add-on to the line up and fits right in with his retro style, playing tight grooves in a loose and relaxed way.

The band, fronted by James Bagshaw, looks and sounds energetic, playing their songs with a lot of fire. Those songs sound amazing, with the clear harmonies and the nice voice of Bagshaw. The band switches easily between sixties style psychedelic pop songs and seventies style heavier rock. Every single song seems to have some kind of hook and lovely melodies, which make them sound so good.

The foursome work their way through the setlist smoothly, without many breaks, except for the occasional guitar change. Bagshaw changes to a twelve string guitar occasionally, that is perfect for this fuzzy sound. Adam Smith adds another layer of guitar or keys and Thomas Walmsley completes the rhythm section with Ottink for the catchy grooves. It all combines into a contagious mix that you just have to bop your head to at the very least. Temples already had their sound down and now they certainly have their live performance down now as well, proving that tonight with a solid show at a sold out Paradiso THT.

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01. The Howl
02. Certainty
03. A Question Isn't Answered
04. You're Either on Something
05. Colours to Life
06. Holy Horses
07. The Golden Throne
08. Atomise
09. The Beam
10. Oh the Saviour
11. Context
12. Keep in the Dark
13. Shelter Song
14. Hot Motion
15. Mesmerise

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Wednesday, 20 November 2019

On Stage: Fatoumata Diawara @ Paradiso

Malian artist Fatoumata Diawara had to leave her country to become a an actress. Or actually to stay one, since she was already performing when she was young. In the very religious Mali her parents didn't want her to sing and act, but instead she should start a family like a good devout young woman is supposed to. In France her acting career took off and she taught herself to play the guitar. She recorded two solo albums and her amazing talent didn't stay unnoticed for long. Now she's returning to Paradiso where I saw her several years ago.

Fatoumata Diawara at Paradiso Amsterdam, November 17 2019

Diawara is a very charismatic artist that spreads a lot of energy and good vibes. Her wonderful voice and beautiful smile is winning over everyone within no time. Her lovely songs are about the many problems Africa faces, including her homeland Mali, but also about the positive things happening there. Sometimes she introduces a song with a small story about its background. This is not only very interesting but also necessary since she sings mostly in the Malian language Wassoulou and I don't know what the songs are about.

Her band consists of very skilled musicians, that play the songs with a lot feeling. The African style songs really come alive on this cold November night here in Paradiso and bring the African sun instead. Diawara is the radiating centre of this band, who is firing up the crowd and her band members, moving around stage all the time. Her African dancing is full of energy, wildly tossing her hair around. At the same time she's showing her guitar skills, playing impressive solos.

With only two albums out, there still is a large variety in sound. There are highlife and afro-beat songs, folk songs, intimate ballads and uptempo dance tunes. All the time it has this lovely West-African vibe that I love so much with the playful tingling guitar lines. Diawara is making everyone clap along, dance along and jump along with her as she's leading with a big smile on her face.

Every musician gets a chance to show his amazing skills with impressive solos. The bassist makes his bass growl and slaps the hell out of it during his solo. The guitar player is going Jimi Hendrix and the drummer copies every line Diawara sings to his drum kit. After finishing the set, Diawara is not allowed to leave without playing an encore and of course she is happily returning to the stage for one more song, inviting some people over to dance with her. We can be really thankful she had the courage to chase her dreams.

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