Orkestra del Sol's Top Trumps
Balkan, gypsy and polka sounds in a musical face-off
This article is from 2011.
Orkestra del Sol’s Top Trumps show is an inspired concept for a live music performance. Flyers bearing each band member’s vital statistics are handed out prior to the gig, so that audience members can pick a favourite from the nine musicians. The performers then ‘compete’ in a series of musical bouts designed to test their individual attributes: speed of playing, instrument dimensions, range – in terms both octaves and, er, distance – and lung capacity (conveniently, this last one is also the name of their latest album, available at the merch stall after the show).
The benefit of having this framework in place is that the music – which covers the Balkan, gypsy, klezmer, polka, ska, samba and specially created ‘honkstep’ genres – has a sure-footed concept to fall back on should audience members’ minds start to wander, although the tunes are so infectiously danceable that this will almost certainly never happen. The very, very slight downside is that some of the face-offs come across as stagey and faux-spontaneous, an unfortunate misstep for a band who typically having nothing to fear from such pitfalls. Thanks to their enthusiastic overall performance though, these niggles are all but inaudible over the horns.
Assembly George Square, 623 3030, 22 Aug, 7.15pm & 9pm, £12 (£10).