Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Sidonie and the feelgoodometer

Sidonie live at the Casino, Gijon, 25th May 2013

There are some bands that will bring a smile to your face. The Beatles, The Small Faces, The Lovin' Spoonful, Madness, The Who, The Grateful Dead... all of them had a sense of humour and gave off strong feelgood vibes. The Beatles had a cheeky and absurdist wit, as seen in the films Hard Day's Night and Help; the The Who were subject to the uncontrollable farce of Moon the Loon; the Small Faces were imbued with a keen knockabout cockney comedy and featured it most strongly in Lazy Sunday; and the Dead took cues from Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters. It all adds up to setting your feelgoodometer spinning and good vibes a-flowing. Maybe the humour and positive vibes are part of their greatness. If the Beatles are anything to go by it is perhaps evidence of greater artistic self-confidence and a longer-lasting more genuine "cool" than the pale-faced, leather-trousered art school attempts at such. The feelgood positivity is an essential part of their art.

Sidonie are a Spanish band who are also imbued with this sense of existential anti-angst. I saw them play live on Saturday night in Gijon. Sidonie are Marc Ros (vocals, guitar), Jesús Senra (vocals, bass, sitar) y Axel Pi (drums, tablas, bongos). They owe their existence to a record shop in Leeds where the 3 members met in 1997. Axel Pi and Marc Ros were on holiday in the UK and were looking for a specific song by Brigitte Bardot. They went into a local Leeds shop and behind the counter was Jesús Senra. To memorialise this moment of heavy synchronicity the band named themselves after the Bardot song they were looking for – Sidonie.

They have made around half a dozen albums and are band with evident 60s pop and rock influences. You get occasional flashes of the Kinks or the Small Faces in their sound, not necessarily in specific songs but in the general ambiance. I have mentioned them before here. Their last album A Mil Anos Luz is recommended for its riffy psychedelic rock. They also have a knack of writing catchy songs and there was much singalong at the gig on Saturday night. The band don't appear to take themselves too seriously and they have a cheeky feelgood factor in their stage presence, somewhat reminiscent of the Lovin' Spoonful, which is refreshing. Rock music seems to have spent so much of the last 20 years trying so hard to be post modern and self referential that it now appears to be disappearing up its own output socket. Sidonie are definitely an antidote to that.

Plus any band that comes on stage with a sitar gets my vote.

The gig had some notable highlights. I’ve included some clips from youtube below. The show built from a slow unplugged start with Jesús Senra singing solo, featured a few intense electric versions on some of their hits like El Bosque and A Mil Años Luz, and even featured the aforementioned the sitar on the instrumental “Sidonie Goes To London”. The band ended the show by coming out into the middle of the audience and doing a couple of acoustic numbers (one of which was the Everly BrothersAll I Have To Do Is Dream) with everyone sat around them on the floor. A nice chummy way to finish with big grins all round and everyone getting their Smartphones out to memorialize the moment.

There was spontaneity and warmth and the band achieved a genuine rapport with the audience. Good vibes and positivity. My feelgoodometer recorded a natural high.

El Bosque (The Wood)

A Mil Años Luz (A Thousand Light Years Away)


Sidonie band website here (Spanish)

Now try this Horizonte Eléctrico - 10 Great contemporary Spanish bands that should be better known outside Spain

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