The seven musicians who come together to form jazz/funk/hip hop band Pangolin seem to be having a lot of fun making their music. Throughout the set, smiles and giggles dart backwards and forwards between the members of the group, especially when they make mistakes. There's something wholesome about them as an ensemble and the gig has such an easy, open-armed and honest flavour that their music can take its effect without hindrance.
The music that they make is indeed full of special effects; this group are masters of stimulus. The vibe is always intense but they steer the audience from empathy to elation, from poignancy to passion. The overall sense is like a balloon full of golden syrup – there's this craft-fully contained fullness to their sound, and every time they reach a peak, there's no bang, and instead the sweet viscosity seeps out. (I know, I know. But once I'd thought of the analogy during the gig I couldn't stop – it really works, trust me!) The contrast of the expressive and delicate but ebullient vocals from Jemimah Taylor and the groovy, driving bass lines from the cheery Harry Brokensha epitomises their substance, although this is not to downplay the importance of the other musicians. All the solos were delivered with evident skill and fun, while still working as a group. Femi Nylander's spoken word/rap is also at the heart of everything, which is clear enough to be intellectually as well as rhythmically appreciated and is delivered with style. His singing voice is beautiful as well - it could have been used more!
The gig, which took place in the Jericho Tavern's intimate upstairs venue, started with music from immensely talented singer-songwriter Calypso. Her autobiographical, self-proclaimed 'sad' songs and mellow, soft, powerful vocals shared a collected calmness with the band that were to follow, even if they were stylistically not an obvious pairing. Her voice really is magical – one of those ones you could listen to all day, and her lyrics tease out shared experiences of loss and love while focusing authentically on her own stories (I'll admit I cried). They were indeed sad, but there's a joy in tackling uncomfortable emotions head on, and they were also at points really funny.
This double bill provided an evening full of feels, full of fun and full of the kind of music which makes it feel good to be alive, now.