Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1088

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BALLALOUDA â Camden Jazz Cafe, London - February 27th 2008


There are not many bands to speak of that could exude a summer feelgood factor in the middle of winter and to do so, shows a degree of energy and enthusaism that surpasses an average Wednesday night gig.

BallaLouda, the group that were effectively headlining the long running Raison DâEtre live music event were, however such a band. Formed in 2005 as a Anglo-Italian outfit and based in North London, their music blends Latino-Cubano dance rhythms with folkish gypsy elements typified by the way in which, for example, they use the accordeon.

It did not take the overenthusiastic introduction of Raison DâEtreâs French host to soon realise that we were in the presence of a talented set of musicians. Playing tracks from their self-titled debut album, BallaLouda made a strong opening with âWay of Lifeâ which fully showcased the bandâs musical range. Particularly impressive were the very tight brass section and the cuban-tinged percussion. Vocalist Tim Mcleishâs storytelling was particularly engaging as he ranged back and forth on the stage imparting his narratively lyrical vocals and rap, drawing the audience into the show. This ability was especially evident during âBottle It Upâ, a nicely packaged story of drinking misdeeds and its consequences. The laid back âSo Muchâ was reminiscent of that eclectic mix of styles propagated by bands such as the Cat Empire. BallaLouda also played one cover that contained the intro made famous by Basement Jaxxâs âBingo Bangoâ and this really got the crowd moving. The show climaxed with âBetween the Linesâ a two speed number, that oscillated between old fashioned uptempo 80âs ska worthy of Buster Bloodvesselâs (Bad Manners) frenetic pace, and classic 70âs deep reggae.

Considering the quality of the performance, crowd numbers that remained to see the group were a little disapppointing but not entirely surprising given the gigâs relatively late start. However, at no point did this dull efforts of this effervescent eight piece who turned in an entertaining 50 minute set. To their credit, they cheered up a dark winter night. This sunny music, though really lends itself to Summer and the outdoors. It would be nice, therefore, to see BallaLouda on the festival circuit in the near future.

From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

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