CARNIVAL COLLECTIVE + BLOCO BRANCO – THE HAUNT, BRIGHTON 30.11.18
It seemed highly appropriate that Carnival Collective had announced their sold-out home show in Brighton for Friday 30th November, on the eve of the weekend which traditionally marks the beginning of the Christmas party season – and boy, was Brighton in the mood to party!
I first became aware of Carnival Collective around ten years ago when I saw them deliver a storming performance in the main marquee at Middle Farm’s ‘Apple Day’ where their energetic rhythmic beats and searing brass section had everyone up dancing on the hay bales, fuelled by some particularly strong ciders. Since then, I have seen them several times and they have never failed to deliver despite an ever-changing line-up.
This is a real behemoth of a group, I counted at least 27 of them take to the stage at Brighton’s Haunt (soon to relocate round the corner), however this number swelled to over 40 musicians by the encore as they invited new members of the group who had not performed in public before to take to the stage.
Carnival Collective is dominated by a huge percussion section featuring a myriad of drums, brass, sax et al and it’s sound can best be described a fusion of tribal beats, samba, drum and bass, rap, reggae and jungle – we even had a swing number this evening! The two main female singers harmonise superbly and their voices are powerful enough to ensure they don’t play second fiddle to the huge battery of instruments surrounding them.
All night, the crowd swayed back and forth intoxicated by their infectious performance and it was difficult to pick a highlight as the whole show was superb. I particularly enjoyed their unique take on Dawn Penn’s classic ‘You Don’t Love Me’ (No No No)’ and with ‘Simon Says Jump On’ and the closing number ‘True Players’ (Pick Up Your Mind)’ the whole floor was moving – literally!
This was the last show of the year for Carnival Collective. Next year marks their 25th anniversary and I am sure they will be gracing plenty of big festivals, carnivals and stages in celebration for their silver jubilee and for many years to come.
Set list: ‘Druid Fluid’, ‘Green and Yellow’, ‘Cisco Kid’, ‘Suerte’, ‘Pactris’, ‘Simon Says Jump On’, ‘Swing’, ‘No No No’, ‘True Players (Pick Up Your Mind)’.
The role of party starters this evening was handed to Bloco Branco, a colourful 10-piece combo sporting over-sized roses pinned to their outfits. It would be unfair to call them support, as they were equally superb, they could almost be referred to as a type of Carnival Collective lite sharing some synergies with the main band. There are many influences in their music, but it can be best described as a blend of Brazilian drums, contemporary guitar, sax and flamenco which culminates in a truly high-octane sound.
You can tell this is a band who do what they do for the fun of it, as they have even written a song about their ‘big yellow’ local pub, The Gladstone, where they like to go after rehearsals and which they performed for us tonight. This was an extremely enjoyable set that got the crowd dancing energetically and although they had not been on my radar before tonight, I will definitely be looking to see them next year, for which they are planning to release some new material.
All in all, a night of unadulterated colourful joy accentuated by the steam rising off the energetic crowd at the end of a sensational evening. The party season is well and truly underway…..