Vibrant, rough-around-the-edges flamenco mash-up
This article is from 2011.
It’s clear from the moment you walk in the door that Orkesta Simbolika are not the straight-up flamenco group the venue name suggests. From the individual sartorial choices of each bandmate, you can see they’re a mixed bunch: the guitarist sports a loud shirt and kilt combo; the dreadlocked percussionist, a T-shirt and baggy pants ensemble beloved of hippies everywhere; the saxophonist (who, we’re informed, is a special guest this evening), a very dapper disco-gangster outfit, complete with a sequin-banded trilby. The rule about book covers and not judging them is generally a good one, but in this case, appearances are undeceiving.
Playing tunes undercut by the rigid structure of flamenco – all stamping feet, handclaps and Spanish guitar – the band journeys into various musical territories, most commonly reggae and funk. For the most part, the infectiousness of the band’s energy carries them through, provoking several audience members to ditch their chairs for a dance. Their musicianship is very accomplished too, but kept purposefully loose to allow for frequent extended improv jams. In the end, it makes for quite an exhausting experience, audibly as well as physically; you can’t help feeling that the gig might have been more enjoyable with less frantic genre jumping.
Alba Flamenca, 226 0000, 25 & 26 Aug, 10pm, £10 (£8).