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Concert reviews

Pama International @ Gaz's Rockin Blues - Dec 2007

For reasons unknown, Gaz’s Rockin’ Blues tends to be either half empty or jam-packed. Tonight it’s heaving.

By eleven, door entry is one-in-one-out, the cloakroom has stopped taking bags, beer is sweated out as quickly as drunk, there’s a massive queue of girls for the ladies and an almost as massive queue of boys and girls for the gents. Most of the punters are under 25, drawn in by the lure of something – anything – more authentic than the latest Channel 4/Carling sponsored indie band. And with an up close and personal set from Pama International, they’ve found they’re looking for.

The band kick off with recent B side wherever you lead, and as the uptown vibes fill the place, our chattel-like discomfort vanishes. In the more refined setting of 93 Feet East or The Jazz café, Pama are serene, even restrained. Here they are raucous and quite literally in your face, turning all the quirks of the venue to their advantage.

Unless you’re right at the very front - an accomplishment the heat and the shoving make impossible to maintain - it’s very hard to glimpse the band at all. Fuzz Townsend’s arms flail madly over the bobbing heads as he drums, Paul Heskett lurches into view for a wild sax solo, and frontman Finny is heard but not seen for the entire night. Just as well, then, that the sound of the ancient PA almost devours the room, fat, fuzzy and impossible to escape.

At the half way point guitarist and hype man Lynval Golding calls out “do you like ska music?”, the beat changes, and a tear up ensues. Proceedings then decelerate with Second Chance (on Peter Tosh’s Equal Rights rhythm) before closing at 2am with a drink sodden chant of “enjoy yourself it’s later than you think”.

Tonight Pama played to a crowd who, in lesser hands, would have found the overfilled club too much of a distraction, proving how well suited they are to a more intimate venue. Which is a shame because, with their new album due to hit the stores in February 2008, they may be moving onto bigger things.

Review by Angus Taylor

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