Review: The Brother Moves On @ The Jazz Café (London, 22nd July 2016)

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More like The Brother from planet Niburu… The Brother Moves On begun their Jazz Café headline show with a spoken word tale from outer space. In their opening tune their spandex and war paint was juxtaposed with sumptuous five-part, male vocal harmonies taken straight from the post-colonial South African choral cannon. A mesmerising start to proceedings!

Their set was dominated by tribal vocal scats, with the occasional tune, superimposed over a progressive rock soundtrack. Apart from one gap to introduce their politically motivated tune ‘Babalas’ (hangover), the predominantly South African crowd was treated to a relentless assault of competing musical styles, with bass and baritone vocal harmonies spliced over the occasional high life inference, all delivered by a band doubtlessly influenced by early Genesis. It definitely felt very rock and roll.

The name of the band is a literal desire from the band’s founders, brothers Siyabonga and Zelizwe Mthembu, to allow members to come and go at any time… hence ‘brothers keep moving on…’

After looking at their online presence it was noticeable that long time member Raytheon Moorvan was missing. They also declined to play any of the more popular and recognisable songs they’ve recently released, presumably by design.

The ramshackle and improvisatory nature of the project is both eminently attractive and inherently challenging. The songs seemed unfinished. The band also looked a little unsure of themselves as they relied heavily on the undeniable musical talents of their drummer and bassist who provided a masterclass in improvisation and technique. This band is one for rock fans, but be prepared not to get what you expect!

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