10th Nov 2016
I arrived at Yellow Arch with chattering knees on a bitterly cold evening, largely wanting to stay in and hug the radiator all night. I’d also spent the day sawing loft installations and my eyes were red and sore. So, the gig could have happily not happened for me as I shuffled uncomfortably in my seat in 10 layers of clothing. Not even willing to take my bobble hat off.
Within the first 30 seconds though, I knew I had made the right choice as I was quickly warmed up by this rhythmic five piece from London.
Vula Viel translates as good is good, and it’s hard to argue with that. Here was an ensemble of talented musicians playing infectious, traditional Ghanian music with aplomb.
Delivering an intensive and energetic performance that even pushed the performers physically to the edge. In particular; saxophonist George Crowley playing to the point of pain as he let out small yelps from squeezing every last breath out of his lungs. Which, without sounding masochistic, is just the commitment you wish to see from a band on a cold Thursday night.
People playing with real heart, soul and love, and this was evidenced no more so than through the leader of the group, Bex. Who energetically bounced on stage and made bashing the Gyil (a type of xylophone, since you asked) look the most fun instrument in the world to play.
My only disappointment was that it was sit down gig. For, as much as the band are at home in a jazz club, there’s no doubt with their soulful, danceable vibe they would storm a sweaty festival tent or club. More than capable of making anyone lose their proverbial digestive tract.
They certainly raised the roof here, even with my adroit loft installation skills.