Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tsiganiiii!

I was at the Royal Festival Hall last night to see what The Times have described, with uncharacteristic accuracy, as "among the greatest live-music acts of recent times", the legendary Gypsy Queens and Kings.



A touring collective of some of Europe's greatest Romany musicians, they combine staggering technical ability with an incredibly infectious sense of fun. With everything underpinned by a huge, undulating wall of brass from Fanfare Ciocarlia and Mahala Rai Banda we were treated to a night joining the dots between the various styles of music associated with the diaspora - from plaintive ballads to flamenco to glorious rolling Balkan funk. Star of the show, inevitably, was the formidable Macedonian icon Esma Redzepova, a favourite of Tito, twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and owner of a voice like nobody else.

Appropriately for such a geographically diverse band, shout outs to audience members from Spain, Romania, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Serbia, Moldova and the Czech Republic were warmly returned by a crowd determined to make a mockery of the 'no dancing down the front' rule security guards were vainly trying to enforce.

If you ever get the chance to see them, take it.

8 comments:

nilpferd said...

Very envious.. I'm annoyed we missed Fanfare C. here in summer, though they are touring solid the next two years. There were quite a few great Romany brass bands around this summer, popping up at cultural festivals or street festivals, most I'd never heard of, some combining other influences like salsa or brazilian music with Romany styles.

goneforeign said...

Love it, thank you and more envy.
Many years ago Shannachie records released a double DVD set on the history of Gypsy music, from India to the West, I bought it blind and it's what got me started, since then I've accumulated quite a few CD's.
When I was a teenager I went on the trolleybus every day to school in Woolwich [SE London], we passed a Gypsy encampment on the marshes at Abbey Wood, I was always curious but never had the nerve to go and have a look around, should have.

glasshalfempty said...

Thanks, sounds a great gig. At Nilpferd's urging I went to see Fanfare C last year in Brighton, and it was a great party night, like a village wedding! Definitely a live act, though...

nilpferd said...

Cool, GHE! Who did you end up marrying, then? ;-)

Japanther said...

nice sounds SV.

Being of direct Gypsy/Romany descent myself, I feel I should know something about this kind of music, but sadly I know nothing at all....

saneshane said...

at Latitude festie this year they had a showing of the film 'Black Cat/White Cat' then throughout the weekend a Gypsy band lead a pied piper style merry dance trashing other acts and raising anything in its path.. all I can say is..

MOST FUN had by all!

TatankaYotanka said...

Thanks ShariVari ... just trying to convince Mrs TY that they'd be a great opener for our visit to Celtic Connections in January.

sourpus said...

SV, cant help noticing the glaring absence on your list of countries whooping and hollering. I dont know if this was just an oversight on your part, but I am, of course, talking about Hungary.

Not that Roma music is not popular here - very far from it. Based on the percentage of thumbs up ive come across here, you might almost think it was pure Hungarian music we are talking about. Such a contrast with the attitude here to all other things Roma, which is 100% negative.

Can anyone in Britain imagine a situation where the white music fan is mad about Bhangra (for example) right across the board, even to the point where everyone would rather go to a Bhangra gig than a Coldplay gig (so would I, quite frankly) but is utterly racist in every other way to people from the Punjab?

Personally, I am not that big a fan anymore, having experienced Roma fiddle overload after 7 years here, but I get that the Gypsy Queens and Kings are doing a grand job.