Sinkane | The Dome | 29 March 2017
“Everything is fine/ We’re all gonna be alright,” sings Ahmed Gallab on the slinky ‘U’Huh’. And, for 80 glorious minutes, nobody inside The Dome can disagree.
Sunny enough to banish even the memory of Theresa May triggering article 50 this morning, Sinkane’s music turns out to be the perfect antidote to the bleakness of the world outside.
‘Deadweight’ gets the party going. A feel-good groover propelled by Elenna Canlas’ synths and Ish Montgomery’s swinging bassline, it’s the first of several songs from new album ‘Life & Livin’ It’ that speaks to the importance of rising above current socio-economic challenges. The slinky ‘New Name’, from 2014’s ‘Mean Love’, introduces the fiery brass sound that plays an integral part to the Sinkane sound, while the feel-good ‘Show Me The Way’ and ‘Passenger’ show that, no matter how much fun they’re having, the eight people up on stage are a tight musical unit, equally capable of spontaneity and precision.
Adding “dexterity” to that list of adjectives, oh-so-funky ‘Theme From Life & Livin’ It’ has Gallab and drummer Jason Trammell switching roles, with Canlas and especially Amanda Khiri doing much of the vocal heavy lifting. Later, ‘Yacha’ also has the frontman graciously stepping out of the spotlight, as Khiri’s beautiful gospel voice raises the soulful track to ‘Songs In The Key Of Life’ heights.
The sparkling ‘Telephone’ restores the natural order of things: as the synths glisten, the rhythm section sway, the saxophone/trumpet duo channel the ‘60s Motown thing, and Gallab does his finest Prince, Jonny Lam plays impeccable disco rhythm guitar before laying down a totally unexpected solo that owes more to Jimi Hendrix than Nile Rodgers. Effervescent ‘Favourite Song’ lets the guitarist explore the kwela sound popularised by Ray Phiri on Paul Simon’s ‘Graceland’ (and later approximated by the likes of Vampire Weekend), while the full band’s involvement carries ‘Mean Love’ far beyond the understated album version.
They do exactly the same for the glam ‘Runnin’’ and slow jam ‘How We Be’ (which has yet another roof-raising performance from Khiri), before the reggae vibes of ‘Won’t Follow’ kick off the encore and kick out the blues once and for all.