So we’ve had something of a residency at the Lansdowne. Frankly, it’s not a glamourous place, the beers are overpriced and the sound guys often suck. But I have to say, it’s our kind of place. It’s just grungy enough to have a bit of character, but not so grungy that it’s dank, and uncomfortable. Sure it’s not ideal, but if you’re not there for the music or the steak then you’ve kinda missed the point.

I digress. I had just hurriedly eaten a steak in the intervening time after the last band had finished, and was shocked to discover the seats that we had left were still there, as Kooyeh began setting up. Their facebook page told me to expect a seven-piece ska, roots and reggae band with two female backup singers and a saxophonist. Instead there were still drums, bass, guitar and keys, as well a male singer. Except the singer didn’t really sing lead on most of the songs, that was the keyboardist (I may add; watching a keyboard player at the Lansdowne was a first for me). Not that any of that mattered when they begun to play.

The best way to describe the sound would be tight. Except tight is too loose of an adjective. They were vice-grip, ball-bustingly, Navy SEAL tight. The drummer and bassist locked step and set the groundwork for the guitarists’s funky strutting (using a Prince-style guitar too, zany), as the keyboardist largely took the lead on electric piano (sadly, the hammond organ sound was only busted out on the last two songs). And on the whole it worked. For a few songs the keyboard was replaced by an acoustic guitar, but it didn’t diminish the intensity of the sound. The singers traded verses and lines, and created a nice flow of vocals. I’ll admit I didn’t particularly pay attention to the lyrics, but ska and reggae are hardly known for their poetry anyway.

What was ultimately impressive about the band was just how much they kept it together. Most pub sets inevitably feature a few dud or at least less immediately interesting songs. Put a young band up for 45 minutes and they’re bound to play something that you don’t like as much. Kooyeh didn’t have that. Particularly given that ska and reggae music can often be a creative noose, I was impressed that this Blue Mountains quintet (or septet, whatever they are on the day) managed to consistently entertain at such a high level.

If the Lansdowne continues to feature such talented bands we may never end up leaving.

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