Review: Aurelio @ Richmix, London (1st February 2017)

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Calling out a beaming welcome to the ambassador of Honduras, Aurelio gently filled the room with his unique equatorial style, set against swelling stringed harmonies. Joined not only by their country roots, Aurelio also shares common prestige with his political friend for his standing within the Garifuna community, and for his honest representation of their music.  In one of London’s venues doing the most to celebrate diversity, Rich Mix was the ideal location for sharing his Afro-Caribbean music with an animated crowd. This was a night brought together by ourselves and good friends Moviementos, one of London’s most loved Latin music promoters.

Aurelio performed his signature style of music, Paranda.  He learned this as a child sitting in the village at sun-down, as the locals came back from fishing and sang community woes and tales.  Despite an audience unfamiliar with his mother-tongue, his stories translate through the medium of song and have a quality of timelessness.  His words felt like an invitation into the world he inhabits, turning the hall into a chamber of tropical vibes.

Playing alongside two other musicians, the stage surprisingly missed the low sultry tones of the bass.  However female percussionist Lya really shone. Bringing swagger and pacing rhythm to her Caribbean swing on cajon and congas, she expelled a subtle yet potent wave of energy throughout the crowd.  It was impossible to divert your attention away from her as she interjected each track with uplifting beats.

The gig started on a more mellow tone but ramped up in energy throughout the night.  One number “Sañanaro” was responsible for propelling listeners into dancing action.  It started with fluttering percussion as if the hummingbirds had also flown into town and later featured a stylishly minimal guitar solo with reverb-laden western effects, uniting different flavours.

Sharing the stage with Aurelio and his band that night was Juanita Euka, who previously warmed up the audience to lush temperatures with her powerfully soulful voice and West African rhythms. Singing in a mixture of Spanish and English, she let her multi-cultural influences blend seamlessly with her charm and beauty.

The night imitated its origins, as the audience loosened up after a mid-week day at work.  This is music designed to bring people together and strangers rubbed shoulders to relax and unwind. A lifelong performer, Aurelio is a positive, grinning force that will brighten your night as he tells stories straight from the soul.

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