What a superb evening of well-crafted psychedelic rock we had at the Scala in London’s Kings Cross.
Support Yama Warashi (“mountain spirit” in Japanese) set the tone of the night perfectly with her chilled blend of traditional Japanese folk, jazz, and psychedelia. Her set drew on the back catalogue of her albums, from 2016’s ‘No Face’ up to last year’s ‘Crispy Moon,’ which has been remixed and reworked by the likes of Zongamin, Orbury Common & Scott Humphrey. This version of the album hit in May of this year. Yama Warashi has fabulous stage presence, being center stage behind a bank of keyboards, while her band – a drummer, bassist, and multi-instrumentalist (guitar, keys, and percussion) looked incredible and were perfectly in sync with each other. We recommend you check this artist out!
Flamingods took to the Scala stage to enthusiastic applause and started with ‘Born Lucky’ from the latest album ‘Head of Pomegranate.’ The traditional percussion leading into synth-pop keyboard sounds gave us a great live version of this album track. This led into the latest single ‘Adana.’ ‘Head of Pomegranate’ featured heavily in the set, with 8 tracks from the album getting the live treatment. These included the single ‘Gutterball’ – with 80s-inspired synth sounds providing the backing for this upbeat, punky anthem. The lyric ‘Spit it out’ is repeated throughout the song, showing us how politically charged the band is. Speaking to CLASH online magazine, the band described ‘Gutterball’ as “…us wanting to create a Middle Eastern-inspired punk / new wave track that would kill when we played it live.” And we think they nailed it.
Band founder and singer Kamal Rasool, along with Karthik Poduval, Sam Rowe, and Charles Prest showed us their instrumental skills by switching instruments with each other regularly throughout the set and kept us guessing what they were going to play next!
‘Marigold,’ ‘Olympia,’ and ‘Nizwa’ from 2019’s ‘Levitation’ saw some funk and Turkish influences, with lush, atmospheric synths providing a wall of sound over which percussion and guitar let loose. ‘Hyperboria,’ the title track from their 2014 debut album, was a fitting encore and brought us full circle to their beginnings.
Flamingods have been described as “Middle East Punk,” and it is easy to see why. They have an energy about them and have something to say, but they are so much more. The blending of western and Middle Eastern rhythms, scales, and instruments means that this London/Bahraini quartet has something truly unique and magical. It’s clear the Scala audience agrees.
Flamingods continue their UK tour until November 18, and then they hit the road again in February of the following year, taking in other parts of the country.
Middle East Punk Magic: Flamingods’ Captivating Performance at London’s Scala@ Rock News