Baro Banda at the Festival of Perth

I think I’m still grinning. And my feet are stomping. And all sorts of silly jumpy, musically inspired twitches are going on. This is seriously the fault of Baro Banda, appearing at the Festival Gardens for Perth Festival on Tuesday Feb 28.

Hailing from Turkey, Baro Banda play a rollicking Romany inspired fusion of Turkish music with a hint of jazz, funk, hip hop and a little bit of rock. If I’ve lost you there, think; the elan of Good Morning Baltimore, with a little rocking from a great eighties rock cover band and the virtuosity of seasoned jazz improvisers and blend til smooth. Or more simply…the shameless joy of a peaking dance album, minus the cheese. Although the disco lighting rig on the drum kit possibly smacked of a fine sprinkling of parmesan, nevertheless this was one of those nights where the genuine love for music and community overruled percussive instruments clearly moonlighting from a day job at Eurovision.

Although definitely not a capacity crowd for the venue, it is rare to see a Perth audience having such an obviously great time as the crowd that turned out for Baro Banda.  By the end of the second track, the dance floor was full – with talents on show ranging from accomplished belly and flamenco dancers to those who were not tooo bad at merely jumping up and down. For those of us lazy enough to stay in our seats, the complex rhythms that shifted and swirled were a challenge to clap along to but it certainly didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of either the band or the dancers.

With improv, original music and traditional favourites in the play list for the evening, this was a mix that pleased both newcomers and fans alike. The repartee between audience and crowd spoke of a more community based approach to music – where audiences are participants rather than simply spectators which contributed no end to the charm of this energetic and accomplished ensemble.

Baro Banda’s Perth performance eloquently illustrated the benefit of taking a chance during Perth Festival and exploring some of the great international artists on offer.  I was reminded tonight how grateful I am for what I think has been a well curated and exciting program for Perth Festival. The only irony of course being that in the midst of loving the awakening of a truly vibrant cultural calendar in Perth, the joy that some of the international artists have brought have me calculating just how fast I can spring myself from this most isolated of cities to get me a year round immersion in the kind of fun the rest of the world is clearly up to over there.

Zoe Carter

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