Live Music Review: Molotov Jukebox Tour

by Peggy McGregor

Molotov Jukebox is led by singer/actress Natalia Tena, who plays Tonks in the Harry Potter movies and Osha in the Game of Thrones TV series. First formed during an impromptu busking session at The Secret Garden Party, the band combines numerous genres of music – including gypsy, dubstep, funk, ska, samba and reggae – to produce their own unique sound, which they have christened ‘gypstep’.

On Friday, Molotov Jukebox brought their exotic beats and a hoard of shimmying fans to ‘Heaven’ in London.

On entering Heaven, the first thing I notice is the abundance of flowers. Bright blooms adorn girls’ hair, and the mic stands on stage are draped in tropical blossoms. Natalia Tena sweeps into view in a dress so colourful it rivals Tonks’ hair, and with surprisingly little effort straps a heavy looking accordion to her front.

From the first wail of Angus’ trumpet, I decide that Molotov Jukebox is in that small but sacred category of ‘bands best listened to live’. The group radiates the blithe, carefree vibes of a festival, and the crowd responds energetically (and with much hip swinging) to their infectious music.

Natalia’s voice possesses a fullness that recorded music can’t quite convey. She shows off sensual, breathy tones in Can’t Find You, while the samba inspired Tropical BadBoy reveals a playful side to her voice as well as its impressive range.

Violinist/vocalist Sam Apely appeared almost more excited than the fans at the front, grinning and bouncing eagerly on stage while giving a foot-tappingly good performance on the violin. He also got the chance to let his vocals shine in Housefire Smile, an edgy number with dubstep elements, which he delivered with bags of attitude.

Meanwhile Angus received a lot of love from the crowd, particularly for dropping a bar from the James Bond theme tune into one of the songs.

The musicians only paused twice during their vigorous performance, in order to award pineapples to the best-dressed and best dancer in the crowd. After wild calls for an encore, the gig finished with frenetic dancing to Gypsy Funeral.