Review: Carnival comes to Camden Town
Monday 09 February 1998
Jazz Cafe, London
It doesn't promise much, that rather pub-rock sounding name, but Smoke City's intoxicating Latin and dub-influenced sound can generate enough sunshine to bring a carnival atmosphere to Camden in February. The dance cognoscenti approached the evening with snake-hipped curiosity. Most male eyes were fixed on the band's Anglo-Brazilian chanteuse, Nina Miranda. As she segued from Portuguese to French to English, her sweetly-intoned vocals lost none of their erotic charge. But her speaking voice - more Lorraine Chase than Carmen Miranda - was a reminder that while this lot have the rhythm of the saints, they're probably au fait with EastEnders, too.
Both DJ/programmer Marc Brown and guitarist Chris Franck have spent time in Brazil studying Latin music. Tonight this was most apparent in the infectious, loping groove of "Numbers", and in Franck's beguiling guitar arpeggios during the first encore, "Remember This".
Engagingly, the core trio of Franck, Brown and Miranda was augmented to a octet with sitar, cello, electric piano, and more percussion than you could shake a stick at. This enabled the band to stretch the improvisational potential of tracks from their debut album, Flying Away. Cellist Ivan Hussey's solo in "Jamie Pan", for example, was memorable for its rhythmic invention and cross-cultural nous.
Inevitably it was "Underwater Love" - the soundtrack to Levi's mermaid advert - that got the biggest cheer. In playing the song mid-set, Smoke City seemed keen to play down what has become something of a signature tune.
It's a minor criticism, but some might argue that Smoke City lack clear direction, and that the frothy, throwaway pop of, say, "Mr Gorgeous" is a little hard to swallow after something as credible as their cover of Tom Jobim's "Aguas De Marco". That said, as the joyous, all-hands-on-percussion- fest that closed the main act highlighted, this is music to make you move, not think. Perhaps we should just start dancing and cut the chat.
Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt
Life & Style blogs
Alexander McQueen at auction: What makes a really great piece of fashion?
A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
No female ejaculation, please, we’re British: a history of porn and censorship
Stressed nurses are 'forced to choose between health of patients and their own'
Pornhub: Kim Kardashian's sex tape is the most-watched porn video of all-time
Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
New era of cheap oil 'will destroy green revolution'
Ukip founder Alan Sked and Nigel Farage 'begged Enoch Powell to stand as a candidate'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...
£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...
£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...
£30000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small technology business ...