Ojos de Brujo, Roundhouse, London

By Tim Cumming
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The band name translates as "eye of the wizard", and the Barcelona collective certainly know how to put on a magical performance.

England isn't a place that dabbles in alternatives these days and it's hard to imagine the playful radicalism of Ojos de Brujo taking root over here.

But the Catalan troupe, who recorded their debut album Vengue in 1999, and won a BBC Radio 3 World Music Award in 2004 for their second, self-released album Bari, must be one of the few music collectives to have realised real international success without it tearing them apart.

They wear their showmanship like a comfortable and loose garment, and give the overwhelming impression that they're enjoying themselves as much as their audience – which includes a large and animated Spanish contingent.

Behind the 10 or so members ranged across the stage, among them the percussionist Xavi Turull, dancer Susi Medina, turntablist DJ Panko, guitarist Ramó* Giménez, and frontwoman extraordinaire Marina Abad, is a video screen flashing with a mixture of live band feeds cut with all manner of footage.

Much of the two-hour set concentrates on songs from their third album Techarí (which translates as free).

The sharp flamenco rhythms of "Baile Seguirilla" segues into "Respira", with drummer Sergio Ramos dominating proceedings – and sometimes clouding the nuances of the rhythms crowding at the side of the song.

The band then takes off into the ebullient "Color", with its strong Cuban feel.

The mood then abruptly changes with the anti-war blast of "Sultanas de Merkaillo", which blocks out some excellent slabs of techno keyboards to settle in with the evening's set list of rumbas, bulerias, Cuban, Indian and hip-hop rhythms.

Turrell excels on the Indian-flavoured "Todo Tiente", its mix of styles reflective of the mestizo rhythms rooted in Flamenco's heart.

When dancer Mari returns for "Tanguillos", guest rapper Faada Freddy of Daara J takes centre stage to deliver an extended "Get Up, Stand Up."

This call to arms is a standard these days, but tonight it's performed by a genuine collective who not only believe in what they're singing but enact it in how they go about their business.

The Ojos may not be compelling in the way really great musicians or singers are, but collectively, there's no other band like them.

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