Sinkane – Belgrave Music Hall, Leeds, 2nd December 2014 1

Sinkane – Belgrave Music Hall, Leeds, 2nd December 2014

098For those not familiar with the name of Ahmed Gallab, he is a man who has seen plenty of previous action in the deep and varied indie trenches of Yeasayer, Caribou, Of Montreal and Born Ruffians whilst also finding the time to branch out on his own under the name of Sinkane. Past collaborations with Usher and Afghan Whigs and his more recent work as musical director of ATOMIC BOMB! The Music of William Onyeabor – a project that included contributions from, amongst many others, David Byrne and Damon Albarn – gives some indication of the extensive reach of his musical arm.

Yet it is as Sinkane – alongside his regular band-mates Jonathan Lam on guitars, bassist Ish Montgomery and Jason Trammell on drums – that Ahmed Gallab appears in Leeds this evening. This is the penultimate date of a short UK tour that was scheduled to further showcase the material from Sinkane’s second full-length album, Mean Love, released earlier this year to almost universal029 critical acclaim. Mean Love achieves a wonderful sleight of hand by somehow managing to take a myriad of musical styles and influences – from free jazz to funk and the steel guitar of country to east African soul – and magically distilling them all into ten quite perfect pop songs.

Sinkane, however, start tonight’s show with ‘Jeepers Creepers’, a track taken from their previous long player, 2012’s Mars. With its relentless tribal, ostinato rhythm and Gallab’s spectacularly wired wah-wah guitar it throws down the musical gauntlet to the material from Mean Love. But ‘Yacha’ is equal to this challenge as Gallab’s voice moves on up into its higher register, tracing a beautiful soulful arc over the song’s supercharged, funky beat.

And when Lam moves onto the steel guitar for first ‘Galley Boys’ and then Mean Love’s exquisite title track, the evening moves into another dimension altogether. Here Gallab’s voice – a compelling hybrid of Sade and Curtis Mayfield – floats delicately over a gentle heat-haze of countrified soul, something that the ensuing ‘Hold Tight’ then ramps up into a funky space incarnation. The band bows out with a supreme blast of recent single ‘How We Be’ as Ahmed Gallab makes the telling observation, “we’ve got life right in the pocket”. Yes, it really does feel that good.

More photos from this show can be found here

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