Sunday, December 02, 2007

live music: Gétatchèw Mèkurya and the Ex get together in the Paradiso in Amsterdam

I was in Amsterdam recently for a celebration of Frank's APA reaching 100 issues. Many of us who were there went to see Gétatchèw Mèkurya and The Ex playing together.

Just to refresh, Gétatchèw Mèkurya is an Ethiopian jazzer, while The Ex are a long-lived Dutch punk band. At this gig they were joined by Mèkurya and a couple of other brass players (Mèkurya is a saxophonist). I do not know exactly how The Ex got into Ethiopian jazz, but it seems to have become a real thing of theirs – if you go their concerts they are as likely to be selling copies of Les Éthiopiques as their own records. They recorded an album with Mèkurya recently, and are no strangers to collaboration generally, having previously recorded an album (and probably played some live dates) with a small orchestra. The Ex's music is far less straight-jacketed than their status as a "punk" band might suggest, and even on their own their music has a fluidity that makes an association with them and musicians from looser traditions highly appropriate.

So I loved this gig. The music has a bouncy and incredibly dancey quality that made sitting still or chin-stroking nigh impossible. For maybe the first time with The Ex I found myself really seeing the point of the singer, with his interventions strongly assisting the beat as it pounded along its way; I missed him when songs did not require him. This was all more fun than I could shake a stick at, and I am only sorry it did not go on for even longer.

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