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Pirate Brickhill 'An African in London' Pt 5

I had just returned from Transalvania country, where I had successfully eluded the Count whilst making a film with some Romanian firemen (but that's another story). In the interim I had managed to slip in a final edit on the run-riot chess-boxing piece and now here was my carrot to finish the job. A night of mad mayhem and merriment courtesy of my continued involvement in this canary in the mining shafts of a movement. Tough Love, the fellows who had put this amazing spectacle together played earlier on in the evening, but were notable mainly for their incorporation of some African guitar into their music, which is when i felt they were at their best. Wandering around the makeshift fairyland; a brief pause to flirt with the girl with the time-machine umbrella because she seems like a happy bouncy sort of girl (and she controlled time!).

Upstairs I realised my folly of not taking in the whole magical mystery tour when I arrived, as I stumbled across the 'Pandora's Box' of the party – I had already missed most of the acts here, but a girl dressed like a ringmaster who was flashing her nipple tassels for a photograph and smiled as I walked past, gave me the sense that this was where the real party was going down. The DJ had played a rare version of The Masochism Tango (which I claim points for recognising as a Tom Leher classic), and I was feeling quite good about the whole affair... and then Ebony Bones took to the stage. Some bands you slowly nod you head to, and some bands grow on you, and some bands take control of your body and make it jump up and down for you; Ebony Bones is one of these. Strong, rugged basslines which sound almost familiar, tom heavy drums, and lots and lots of jumping and whistles. It's rock'n'roll which borrows as much from rave culture as from punk; old or new. There is clapping, but not in a fag rock sing-along kind of way, in a frantic gay punk the-kids-are-going-mental kind of way. 'We know all about you' stuck stubbornly in my head and came back to me in waves.

A week later, I found myself hurrying back to London after having spent a rather pleasant trip down in Farnham with some old friends. I would have liked to stay longer, but I convinced myself that the London Refugee Week festival on the Southbank would be worth the effort and left Farnham behind to do a little filming of Zimbabwean bassist Mashasha, currently recording his debut solo album. The gig was good, but not his best and I went to chat to Mashasha backstage after the gig and as we gorged ourselves on freebie bananas and jaffa cakes, he bemoaned the fact that he'd forgotten the power cable for his effects peddle – the absence of which had clearly distracted him a little. Walking around afterwards, everything seemed to be winding down but we heard rumour of some band playing on the main stage with a girl from Zimbabwe... as we approached the main stage I quickened my pace and left Mashasha behind talking to some people he knew as I began to be drawn in by the sound.

The Noisettes have actually been around for a while, and if I'm honest, having not heard them before I was expecting something slightly more 'Fratellis-esk', although I have no idea what informed that error of judgement. The band have more of a stripped down punk sound somewhat like The Gossip or The White Stripes, but with a different kind of energy. It's not an African vibe; in fact whilst they were playing a refugee festival, the only nod to Zimbabwe was a chorus of 'Iwe, iwe, iwe!' midway through one of the numbers, which Shingai explained means 'You, you you!' in Shona. Their performance was however, electric. Shingai strutted around the stage singing and playing bass with something a tad edgy about the way she carried herself; simultaneously sexy, sassy and ever so slightly scary.

As the band continued, their set alluded to a more rounded musical taste: definitely a touch of the jazz divas, perhaps a touch of Nina Simone ...or maybe what Bessie Smith might have been if she was in a punk-rock band – but I was too taken with the moment to think more about it. Alas, it was over too soon.

The following weekend, I found myself back on the Southbank for the 3rd time in 6 days – the second time, was the previous night for a screening of Makoto Shinkai's '5 cm per second' – I had successfully led a resolution at the after-party to finish the free wine before we left and the idea of a Friday night in for a change was growing on me rapidly. Just as I was warming to the idea of oven pizza, a friend of mine from Swaziland had told me about a free gig where one of his friends was playing the after party for a Grace Jones show. I umm-ed and ahh-ed about it... it was free... I was tired... it was a live band... I was skint... it was late – but not far to get home... it was Ebony Bones! I was sold.

I arrived there early, in spite of my best efforts, and had to wait around for twenty minutes for everyone else to arrive. However, I soon found myself crowd-side with a beer and good company as the band began their set and I was happy. 'Don't dance so fast (because the music won't last)' 'We know all about you!' – I actually enjoyed Ebony Bones even more the second time around: The initial euphoria that comes with finding a band you really like, eased away by a reassuring familiarity with the songs I had already heard and a more objective admiration for the band's musicianship. The gig was far from badly attended, but I quite enjoyed having space to dance without the squeeze. Of course that was all thrown out the window with the band leading an anarchic semi-planned crowd-rush: first left, then right, then forward, then back – and by the time we had all regained our balance we were perilously far away from our pile of bags and jackets. Ah well.