Monday, 23 June 2008

Malakai @ The Royal Festival Hall, London 21st June 08 (Massive Attack’s Meltdown Festival)

I’ve had my eye on Malakai for a couple of months now. They have been flirting with becoming a bit of a name with a Portishead endorsement and an appearance on Lily Allen and Friends back in March of this year.

Their free show at the Royal Festival Hall – a post-concert concert scheduled to follow the George Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic show – started very late, meaning we almost had to miss it and catch the last train home but thankfully it kicked off by 11:15pm.

Commencing with an energetic instrumental piece, the band (guitarist, bassist, drummer and DJ) ploughed into a pounding rhythm and were joined shortly afterwards on stage by masked* lead singer Gee. Throughout the set Malakai’s performance was very tight and musically very impressive. The vocals did sound a little quiet, this is probably the only point I would pull them up on.


Photo #1: Malakai

Trying to compare them to other bands is proving difficult (that’s a compliment). I’d say they are pop verging on rock with a twist of psychedelia and plenty of energy. There’s an underlying current to some of their songs, a sort of dub, soul sound that I think reveals their Bristolian roots. Saying that, on times there’s also a western film style appeal to the guitar playing on songs like ‘The Battle’ – not sure that’s from Bristol?! In fact that track in particular reminds me of Gnarls Barkley. Malakai seem to be able to turn their hand to many different musical styles and this is what makes pin pointing their sound so difficult.

Photo #2: Malakai

Here’s a link to their video of The Battle on YouTube for you to make up your own mind.






Malakai - The Battle

I was a little disappointed they didn’t play their by far the best track I’ve heard them create so far, the chilled out ‘Simple Song’ but maybe it didn’t fit into the kind of energetic set they wanted to play.

Photo #3: Malakai

The concert ended quite abruptly, after perhaps 7 or 8 songs, and it became obvious a few seconds after the end there would be no encore. This was great timing for us because we would have had to have left then anyway to catch that last train home and there’s nothing worse than leaving a good gig before it’s finished.

So what’s next Malakai? New album? New single? Hope so.

These Bristolians are without doubt a very good live band (one of the best I’ve heard in while) and I would recommend going to their gigs if you’re not afraid of masks.

More Malakai Information:

MySpace

Website

Wikipedia

Here are their latest tour dates:

27 Jun 2008 22:00 Louisianna Bristol

28 Jun 2008 20:00 Glastonbury Festival - (silent world) Glastonbury

29 Jun 2008 20:00 Glastonbury Festival - (lounge tent) Glastonbury

31 Jul 2008 20:00 yoyo! @ notting hill arts club London and South East

2 Aug 2008 21:00 Severnside Festival - LIVE Bristol


* Due to a phobia of masks (this also applies to masks not being worn by people) I had hoped he might have dropped this disguise (surely it gets very sweaty performing with plastic stuck to your face?) but sadly not this time. I spotted a group of breakdancers near the stage who also seemed to be getting into the songs; this also provided me with a reason to not be looking at the lead singers mask.



Photo #4: " I like Malakai so much I feel the need to go down the stairs backwards on my bum" (err not really, that's actually two people break dancing)


I also got to stand and watch people walking through the colourful sculpture called Volume at the Southbank centre. Meltdown curators Massive Attack invited United Visual Artists to exhibit as part of Meltdown. Volume is an award winning sculpture consisting of a luminous array of light and sound emitting columns on Riverside Terrace. Here are some of my photos:


Photo #5: Volume


Photo #6: Volume

Photo #7: Volume


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