Review // The Turbans showcase a culmination of seven years of travelling, improvising and collaborating at O2 Academy Bristol

The Turbans asked their fans to dance, and dance they did

With members hailing from Turkey, Bulgaria, Israel, Iran, Greece and England, it’s unsurprising that The Turbans describe their music as coming from ‘manywhere. Their unique sound can be described as an eclectic mix, drawing on influences from the Levantine and Balkan regions to create an eastern Mediterranean sound, a celebration of unity in diversity.

They played an unmissable set at Colston Hall’s Lantern last Thursday, kicking off a three month tour promoting their eponymous debut album released this April. Written in Burnlaw, a 500 year-old farmhouse in rural Northumberland in spring 2016 with thirteen musicians from ten different countries, the album is the culmination of seven years of travelling, improvising, collaborating and performing.

with thirteen musicians from ten different countries, the album is the culmination of seven years of travelling, improvising, collaborating, and performing

With seven members on stage, their performance was visually arresting: there was Maxim Shchedrovitzki playing an electric Oud, Miroslav Morski on electric guitar, Oshan Mahony on acoustic guitar, Kansia Pritchard on the clarinet, Cabbar Baba on drums, Fred Stitz on bass and Darius Thompson on violin. The Turbans have been a nonstop tour de force ever since the band was started by Darius and Oshan seven years ago.

They were supported by Bristol’s own The Langan Band, whose own unique sound rooted in Celtic folk but with Roma and flamenco influences seemed like the perfect appetiser and warmed the crowd up perfectly.

Saying that The Turbans played a lively set would be an understatement, alcohol and elbows flying left, right and centre

Saying that The Turbans played a lively set would be an understatement, alcohol and elbows flying left, right and centre. They started their set with Riders, their first single, starting with just the oud before the rest of the instruments burst into the frenetic playing The Turbans are known for. It was clear to see that playing live is what these guys live for and it was hard to tell who was having more fun, them or the audience.

We heard Hackney next, the plate smashing joie de vivre the band were emitting was contagious. Their website says ‘We’ve created The Turbans, now all you have to do is dance’ and dance the audience did. There were smiles aplenty and some audience members were dancing around barefoot linking arms and spinning their friends and lovers around with wild abandon.

…competition between Max and Morski on the guitar to see who could play the craziest rhythms, we even saw some oud and electric guitar being played upside down and behind their backs

Next we heard Kansianitsa, Oshan told the audience this song was always a competition between Max and Morski on the guitar to see who could play the craziest rhythms, we even saw some oud and electric guitar being played upside down and behind their backs. There was a natural fluidity to their performance supported by Oshan sayingWe never know how this song is going to end, it’s different every time’. We were treated to solos from every member of the band, each of the maestros demonstrating their virtuosity. Miroslav and Pavlos were taking turns to sing throughout, both of them demonstrating their sensational voices.

Next we heard Samia, starting with Miroslav singing beautifully in French and Darius’ violin solo taking us to higher stratospheres of sonic wondrousness. They kept the pace up with the playful Zawi which battered the senses and lifted the spirits. Thir track Aman came next, containing elements of flamenco guitar.

starting with Miroslav singing beautifully in French and Darius’ violin solo taking us to higher stratospheres of sonic wondrousness

The Turbans went off and came back out for the inevitable encore playing Sinko Moy with Morski getting the crowd to echo his singing. We were treated to one more track, Chubby, Kansia’s clarinet solo particularly standing out. The Turbans ended by thanking everyone for coming and asking the audience to bow to the sound engineer. All in all a boisterously explosive set that left me smiling for days.

Words by Charise Clarke

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