Brixton Academy – 11th November
At the first show of their five-day UK stretch, part of the band’s highly-anticipated world tour, folktronica outfit Crystal Fighters bring their tribal energy to a sold-out Brixton Academy for a night of inspiriting celebration and fast-footed favourites.
The Fighters’ overstated hippy aesthetic, deriving from basque culture, has arguably been to their detriment since forming in 2007; with each show very much an elaborate ‘stage-show’ production, it would be inaccurate to suggest a sense of musical credibility is not at least partly lost to a style-over-substance mentality. But tonight authenticity simply lies in a message of liberation and love, musicianship in the performance of a well-crafted collection of widely-instrumented dance tracks, making it impossible for even those skeptical plus ones not to gleefully participate.
Performing on the back of their third studio album, Everything Is My Family, the band work through a discography of commercially successful hits, together with their latest eclectic mix of tropical-psych and folk-tinged dance beats.
Opening with an abstract percussion introduction played on the traditional txalaparta, Crystal Fighters establish the tribal theme of their show before the crowd erupt to Star of Love classic, ‘Follow’. Highlights include the carnival-spirit of ‘I Love London’, the steel-drum infused ‘Good Girls’ and the galloping rhythms of the wonderfully optimistic ‘Yellow Sun’, intricately weaved polyphonic rhythms at the show’s core.
An intimate dedication of new track ‘Lay Low’ to the band’s late drummer, Andrea Marongui, brings the ultimate authenticity to the night, with themes of peace and love really unifying those within the venue – impeccable timing, perhaps, in a week of unsettling political disruption.
Standing in the audience of a band so enthusiastic in both choreography and musicianship, one of which present such a beaming passion for both rhythmic fun and principal meanings, proves a sincerely sublime event. As an encore of ‘Plage’ brings a deluge of beach balls to an identically bouncing crowd, the night truly ends as it began, on a high and with an effusive appreciation of life.
As a hispanic-electronic group the outfit have never been about lyrical mastery, but that’s not ever been of importance as their USP. The band’s short, hook-heavy choruses boast naturally effortless participation, of which on this night in the high ceilings of Brixton Academy, louden to add to this highly uplifting, energetically youthful and indeed, deeply spiritual affair.
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