Tonight at Exeter Phoenix is another event organised by the FSOE - The Future Sound of Exeter (www.fsoe.org) which is a non-profit collective which promotes innovative local music and put together great line ups which are well attended.
We’ve not been to many of their events and judging by tonight, that’s been a mistake. As the whole evening is another terrific night, and a thoroughly enjoyable experience, with friendly people and great acts.
When we arrive Dub Magnitude are already playing on the bar stage which is programmed by local music pub The North Bridge Inn (NBI). The multitude of instruments played create a mellow folk, fiddle driven rhythm with a dub overbeat. Nice and welcoming and the people out on the terrace (the smokers) can enjoy the music as well as those at tables in the bar.
I don’t get much of a chance to enjoy Dub Magnitude as I want to watch another local act Melosa in the main auditorium which is bathed in swirling lights, with screen projections and Robert Plant’s Strange Sensation emanating from the PA as we enter the reasonably full room.
Melosa’s music is bouncy and positive, new song ‘Everybody Needs Love’ opens the show and the seven piece comprising of bass, saxophone, drums (an electronic Roland set – swanky), acoustic guitar, guitar, backing vocals of Helen Jackson and fronted by the top hat wearing Olly Heriz.
Okay the lyrics are not hugely complex, but they’re well hooked and delivered with an easy flow. The music is a mixture of latino groove and reggae rhythms although the spectrum presented is much wider touching on both ska and folk at times.
Most songs have an element of humour to them, ‘Papa’ a tale of woe and hardship with a bassline to get your feet moving and some wonderful electric picking concerns the need to score. ‘Nightripper’ is an ode to Hunter S Thompson and ‘Watermelon’ is described as rednecks on speed.
Ollie showcases his ukelele playing on ‘Wait’ and frizzlin’ reggae number ‘Same Old Games’ has the crowd all dancing and suddenly the room is hot and sultry. The crowd show their appreciation by demanding an encore and ‘Winter’s Disguise’ is a great tune. Exeter clearly has a burgeoning live scene with acts suited to festivals, and Melosa would have any festival crowd dancing.
Of course Baka Beyond are already established festival favourites and as we wait for their appearance the screen behind the stage plays footage from Cameroon with a soundtrack of West African jamming and images of African dancing.
Another seven piece, the band are all brightly coloured and beaming smiles much like their Celtic/African fusion music. The music is enchanting and magical and the throng are joyously dancing to opener ‘Ra-Li-O’ with Ayodele Scott showing his energetic percussion skills and drummer Tim Robinson concentrating fully on filling out the drum sound. Baka Beyond are a percussionist down tonight but between them they create the rich drumscape for Su Hart and Denise Rowe to sing and dance within.
Paddy Le Mercier’s fiddle or pipes gives the band a Celtic flavour and the gentle melodies are intoxicating. Martin Cradick and wife Su are excited by the prospect of Cameroon’s Baka Gbiné’s forthcoming visit and their collaboration both on stage and in the studio.
They are also excited to be playing so close to Totnes which it would appear must be deserted as judging by the response most of Totnes’ beautiful people are here tonight. That would explain the proliferation of designer hippies with crazy dress sense, perma-tans and huge smiles.
Slowly the band notch it up a gear, and the deep African flavoured bass lines of Kibisingo Douglas underpin the whole frenetic dance groove as Su and Denise lead the crowd in a dance class. There’s a new song from Skye, a song which means ‘Happy Tomorrow’ and some Gaelic tunes including one which sounds like “Smack Your Buttocks” but I’m afraid I don’t know the names or the songs well enough to include their titles.
Ayodele’s African drumming skills at the front of the stage are incredibly vibrant, full of energy and he’s the powerhouse behind the band tonight. Leaving Martin to concentrate on airy guitar work on his airy guitar (half of it is missing) and he or the ever radiant Su are happy to chat to the audience about all things Baka between songs and provide explanations of the songs origins.
He also gets in time to plug both the Sunrise Celebration Festival (31st May) "If you book saying Baka Beyond recommended you, we get £5 per booking (to buy you a drink with!)” and Exeter’s own Respect Festival (7/7/7) both of which the band will be playing.
There’s a sweaty swirling end to their set with the crowd leaping about to the tune of the fiddle and the colourful dancers whirling on stage. It’s an impressive set from Baka Beyond who are clearly looking forward to their summer performances, make sure you see them.
As we file out of the auditorium and past the merchandise stall the sounds of DJ set by Ja Fu Re who re-ignite the rhythm in our bodies with their Jazz, Funk, Reggae and are havin’ a party! They’re putting together great tunes and soon have a crowd in front of the decks in the bar all dancing away happily into the small hours.
A great night in a great venue, I do like the fact they have an umbrella covered and artily lit terrace for the looming no smoking bill. FSOE put together exceptional nights of entertainment and we’ll be attending more in the future.
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article by: Scott Williams
photos by: Karen Williams
| published: 28/05/2007 23:58|