Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Santi Establishment

Santogold, Bar Academy, Birmingham, Monday May 26 2008, 9pm.

Missed the boat in Bristol when couldn't get into the good ship Thekla to see Santogold at the prior weekend's Dot To Dot, although we did have the pleasure of Santi and her dancers brushing straight across your queuing quizling to get on board. So we're fortunate that just two days later we get to see the girls put on a show in the cosy confines of Bar Academy.

A standard support act is eschewed in favour of a DJ who plays an eclectic mix of dance, pop and indie, which, we suppose, is as good as any entree in terms of getting the palate ready for the live showcasing of the Santogold album, for which the DJ remains on stage behind Santi and her two dancers.

The resulting show has been described elsewhere as glorified karaoke, but your hypnotised hack maintains the sight of an energetic, passionate crowd-pleaser like Santi flanked by two dancers who alternate robotically between standing stock-still and some sizzling dance shapes provides more of an arresting visual spectacle than many a so-called great live act in the indie pantheon.

Santi makes no pretence that tonight's performance is anything other than a small-scale celebration of her debut album before she returns with a full band later in the summer. Her stated objective is getting the Second City's early adopters and prime schmoozers shaking their rump to a set heavy in the dancier numbers like 'CREATOR'; 'Unstoppable' and, of course, former Parallax View Single Of The Week 'L.E.S. Artistes' at the expense of poppier highlights like 'Lights Out' and 'I'm A Lady'. The mission is easily accomplished.

Modest in size and set-up as the gig might be, the mutual goodwill between the artist and crowd, helped by the energy of the performance (Santi's alive eyes and sense of fun owes as much to the likes of Tina Turner and Neneh Cherry than the much-quoted M.I.A.) and the genuine quality of the material makes for a memorable show that leaves no-one going home short-changed.

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