After a two-year absence from these shores, Ojos de Brujo come storming back to showcase their new CD Techari.
I’m happy to report that in concert as on CD, the jip-jop flamenquillistas are on raucously free-wheeling top form — energetic, vibrant and entertaining as ever.
Maybe it’s the expanse of the Barbican stage, but the impression is that the band has been pushed back to give even more space to the magnificently strident and prowling lead singer Marina ‘La Canillas’. Adorned in flowing red polka-dot dress, the rat-a-tat-tat of her declamatory vocals ride heavy beat-laden percussion, with turntablist DJ Panko exhorting and encouraging the audience to dance and sing along, percussionist Max adding his usual vocal beat box, and flamenco guitarists Paco and Ramón darting briskly in and out of the mix.
New songs that work particularly well are the dhol-driven rumba Todo Tiende, the beefed-up siguiriya Respira and the Specials-moment during Bailaores where some of the more exuberant dancers in the audience are encouraged to sashay on-stage with the band. The ballad Nana offers the sole welcome rest to weary limbs.
All the favourites from Bari are still there — you can almost guess them yourself — Tiempo de Solea, Naita, Tanguillo de Maria, the block-rocking percussive interregnum Acción Reacción Repercusión, and the Bamboleo-for-our-times Ventilator R-80, which now joins the only surviving song from their first CD (Vengue), Ná en la Nevera, as a crowd-pleasing encore (the Earth will cease spinning on its axis before the latter sing-along gets dropped from the set).
As for the rest of the visual experience: there is no graffiti artist, but we do get a part agit-prop-part-MTV-style video backdrop with anime-style cartoons, news footage of political demonstrations and jump-cut flamenco dancers interspersed with live visuals of the band. Two flamenco dancers add a dramatic (but what is bound to always seem slightly ‘for the tourists’) embellishment to some of the songs.
Add to that the usual animated encouragement from a large section of London’s Spanish contingent, and you have yet another triumphant night for Barcelona’s finest musical export.