Evening One of David Byrne‘s Meltdown, as eclectic a feast of music as one would expect from a man whose career has seen him take influence from a rather a variety of genres and scenes, presents an artist tailor made for this event. Ahmed Gallab, aka Sinkane, brings psychedelia, funk, soul, jazz and many, many other sounds and mixes it all together to produce slinky and sultry grooves.
Following his work in the studio with the likes of Caribou, Yeasayer and Of Montreal, he’s beginning to make his own mark; first on his 2012 breakthrough Mars and last year’s Mean Love. This is also the first of two appearances for Gallab at Meltdown – he is also musical director for Atomic Bomb! The Music Of William Onyeabor, which comprises of members of LCD Soundsystem, Hot Chip and Byrne himself.
There’s a lot of anticipation, but there’s support from Wyles & Simpson before the main event. Abigail Wyles and Holly Simpson have all the ingredients to be captivating, but they have yet to fully translate the energy to the stage. There is a lack of physicality to the set – nothing that really forces the audience to take note. That’s not to say the songs aren’t good enough. Light & Dark is filled with tension and intrigue, as is their opener Impermanence, whilst Stormy Skies bustles along like a version of Portishead that went a bit disco.
It’s a short wait until Sinkane, appearing with a six-piece comprised of guitar, bass, drums and two brass players, takes to the stage. Gallab is a towering but laid back presence with wide-brimmed hat to boot, and it only takes a couple of minutes for Jeeper Creeper, with its wonderfully bouncy bassline, to set the mood. The vocal mixing isn’t great, though it improves steadily as the set goes on, and a proggy wig out with a blistering guitar solo appears out of nowhere. This hour-long set comes close to playing out one extended jam across many different ‘movements’ and taking cues from assorted influences; left turns like this are peppered throughout, which makes for some occasionally thrilling moments.
The middle third sees the momentum sag a little, but the subtle swagger of Warm Spell does well to re-conjure the party atmosphere. This is the point where audience members start to make their way to dance at the sides, making the best of all-seated venue. Luckily, they picked their moment well, as it’s the dancier portion of the set. Gallab’s falsetto is at its peak on Runnin’ and How We Be manages to get ever livelier as it goes on.
Everyone clearly wants more. Even when the house lights go up, it takes a while for everyone to realise that he’s not returning for an encore. David Byrne, who made a fleeting appearance in the auditorium, left shortly before the party atmosphere kicked into life but it’s certain that it was exactly the effect he would have wanted Sinkane’s performance to have. It’s not been revelatory, but it’s still a decent and enjoyable start to Meltdown.