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Los Albertos – The Haunt – 3rd October 2015

Los Albertos – The Haunt – 3rd October 2015

Out of the blue, this legendary Brighton based six-piece, were persuaded to reform in September of last year for just one performance, a private event at a friend's birthday. It had been two years since they had signed off in spectacular fashion with both a roadblock gig at the now sadly deceased Blind Tiger Club (does anyone know the real story behind this?) and the stage invading spectacle of Playgroup Festival in September 2012.

In September 2014 they rehearsed a couple of times and delivered one of the tightest performances of their 12 year career. It told them, and the lucky few who were witness, that they still had it in spades, that they were still entertainers of the highest order, with an unrivalled collection of high energy songs that skirt the boundaries of ska, punk, funk, dub, eastern European and good old rock, in creating a unique, unclassifiable sound. But, what to do about it?

As well as releasing a forthcoming four track 12” of new material, they have been dipping their toes back into the live music scene this year, including another huge performance at Boomtown Festival (the founders of the festival insist that they play each year), as well as this sell out show at The Haunt, their final show of 2015.

Support band Town of Cats warmed up the audience with their Gogol Bordello inspired gypsy ska before Los Albertos took to the stage, and as always, began with one of their signature tunes, the mis-named Scientist, a song actually about the joys of sitting in a field at Glastonbury Festival, but which acts, lyrically and musically, as a rallying point for the fun to follow. And that is exactly what they do, rarely failing in their raison d’etre; getting the party started.

But, it wouldn’t get off the ground if the songs weren’t there, or the performance not engaging. And, like all great bands, they don’t have to show off or over-indulge to get across the fact they are all very fine musicians. Yes, the whole is greater than the sum of their parts.

Playing songs from their last album Dish It Up, and a few newer numbers, the ante is raised immediately with Scientist and from there on it’s an intense roller-coaster ride of blazing horns, funky dub bass, tight harmonies (all but one of the band sing), super tight drumming courtesy of Martin Andrews, and the ska-funk based guitar of Mark Crawford. It’s all topped off with a punky, but funtastic attitude, honed by their experiences of being street entertainers, and which includes a highly memorable interlude whereby fans are invited to throw a few drinks at them on stage...  

Itchy Feet is a relatively new track, sung by trumpet player Des Crawley, a typically bouncy and multi-faceted Los Albertos song, and one that will be featured on the forthcoming 12". This is followed by a fast flowing series of Los Bos fan favourites: Leslie, Phase, Carry On (Regardless), Sleep, and Saint, a riotous blitzkrieg of killer riffs, tags, melodies and funny, sometimes ludicrous lyrics. Highlight of the set is the three song medley that showcases their eclecticism. Beginning with Friends, a four-to-the floor groove, with melodica and sax providing the melody lines, the band segue into Beer Panic, a song that dates from their very first album, Los Bop, which begins with Mark Crawford wailing into a mic about the lack of beer in his life (it’s to be noted that this song was written in the days when there were strict pub opening hours, and non-24 hour alcohol providers), accompanied by the plaintive trumpet of Crawley, before the band come in together for a furious ska hoedown. This in turn morphs into their distinctive take on Sweet Dreams, the Eurthymics hit, which can't help but get the audience delirious with dance floor abandon, the songs sentiments chiming perfectly with the party and festival vibe of the band and the audience.

They sign off with another relatively new track, Fall From Grace, the band's musical diversity all here on one song; dub, klezmer, funk, punk and rock, allied to a humorous tale of half-remembered debauchery.  

It seems that the two year break did the world of good for this hugely admired band, one who will hopefully continue to spread the good vibes in 2016.
Julie Andrews




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