Fiesta Bombarda

The Kazimier 5/9/15

As the farewells begin in earnest, tonight it’s the turn of Fiesta Bombarda to say goodbye to the Kaz. The night’s Aztec theme is realised in the club with masks and carved temple totems and the Garden is decked with brightly coloured tropical orchids. It’s a sell-out, and already, before a trombone has honked or a guitar riff has been chopped, a face-painted, be-feathered crowd is clearly on board. It’s obvious from the off that this is going to be no parting wake.

JALEN NGONDA, fresh from an excellent performance at LIMF, gets things underway on the outdoor Garden stage. His strong, soulful voice quickly draws a crowd and the classic three-piece line-up deliver a punchy set. Ngonda himself already appears a confident performer, equally at home singing blues, RnB or soul and his guitar-playing is similarly diverse, delivering choppy riffs and stinging solos in equal measure, and eliciting a tremendous response from the growing crowd.

Indri singer CLARY TAYLOR indulges in the ancient Aztec ceremony of leaping barefoot onto gravel, as she leaves the safety of the boards for a more intimate crowd experience. Blimey, that must hurt, but she doesn’t flinch and continues to add layers of ethereal vocal to the semi-acoustic guitar vibe and stabbing, slinky keyboard of the band, whose tight harmonies are given full rein throughout a set of mixed tempos.

The more upbeat and playful vocal stylings of chanteuse CHANEL SAMSON hold sway in the Club, and her seven-piece band and burlesque fan dancer play to her vaudevillian pop strengths. A blowsy brass section, the first of several we will enjoy tonight, and a hot rhythm section drive along Samson’s wry songs of love and heartbreak, delivered in her characteristic Betty Boop style.

The next great brass section belongs to THE SOUL RAYS, who hit the ground running in the Garden. Punchy horns and sassy vocals soar over a low-down funky groove, searing guitar and rock-solid rhythm as the band slide through Cooking The Books and One Way Ticket. Vocalists Fabia, Madalina and Nina got the looks, got the moves and got the voices. The classic southern soul of Mr Big Man has the crowd getting down, guitarist Harry Brown is standing on the speakers ripping out solos or nailing down rhythms, but, whether they’re skanking it, swinging it or funking it up, the Soul Rays have ‘feel good’ written all over them and the crowd are going ape shit.

Harry Brown legs it (or rather fights his way through a Rat Alley jam-packed with gyrating bodies) to the club stage where he is appearing with GALACTIC FUNK MILITIA, performing only their second live gig. They pick up where the Soul Rays left off, with singer Amber Kuti equally at home with the sexy, funky groove of Dance Floor Grinder or the slower, classic soul balladry into which the band seamlessly slip. Bassist Mook Mak looks like he’s beamed down from Sly Stone’s band circa 1969, and adds vocals and a thumping, swaggering bass to the tightest of rhythm sections. Again, the brass section is swinging, punctuating the groove beautifully, and by the end of their set the stage is invaded by singing, dancing Fiestanista.

Stage times aren’t staggered at Fiesta and, by a certain point in the early morning, with bands playing on both stages, things begin to blur around the edges a little.

Out in the Garden, HIGHFIELDS have a good-sized crowd to themselves, clapping and singing along to their up-tempo, harmony-laden sound; in the club, Brighton nine-piece EUPHONY tear up a rip-roaring set of gypsy fiddle and skanking guitar inlaid with blasts of New Orleans trumpet; RAGS RUDI wrap it up in the Garden with a similar brassy, skanky vibe plus a little de la Rocha vocal delivery and wah-wah guitar to top things off; up on the balcony, people are swinging glowing globes around their heads in a danse illuminate. LAZY HABITS boast two drummers, another top brass section (theme of the night!), DJ Itchi on decks and the livewire James Collins stalking, jumping, exhorting over funky, jazzy grooves, delivering rapid-fire vocal strafes. The crowd are bouncing, joining in choruses and, as a wash of synth and a spacey vocal brings their set to an end, drummer Ross McDouall slides off his drum stool onto the stage in exhaustion. IRATION STEPPAS’ heavy dub and rhythmic toasting provide a suitably zoned-out finale as

Fiesta Bombarda says “goodbye” in style.

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