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Oi Va Voi concert review

by: Elly Goodman - Last updated: 2007-07-10

Oi Va Voi

Oi Va Voi

Oi Va Voi are back after two tumultuous years with an eponymous second album.

The Loyal, sold-out crowd were expectant but this was a gig of two halves and discounting the support - although Acoustic Ladyland should never be discounted with their blend of dirty cyber-jazz and unruly, visceral music - two distinct bands played tonight.

First up was theatrical Oi Va Voi. The diva-like violinist, Anna Phoebe, opened the night with the stirring Dissident from their new album. This was followed by Gypsy, which took us from the ghettos of Eastern Europe and dumped us smack bang into London’s urban experience. 

The new single, Yuri, a two-step tale about the first man in space was charismatically told by Lemez Lovas, the cheeky trumpeter. 

We journeyed on through dub into jazz improvisation, evoking prohibition bars in this smokeless age.

The crowd livened up a little at this point, but only a little and not for long.

The soulful voice of Bridgette Amofah blended effortlessly with the band, layers were added slowly and skilfully until voice and violin were spiralling around each other. Breaks and beats were laid underneath the traditional Hebrew lyrics of Od Yeshoma bringing this celebratory song up to date.

The audience remained static they clearly loved the band, but from afar. Until, that is, two new songs were performed as a stripped back acoustic set with guitar, violin and vocals.  Three was the magic number and the crowd warmed up to this pared down group, the relaxed Oi Va Voi.

The rest of the band returned to the stage for the haunting Yesterday’s Mistakes, English lament answered by the Cantor’s call. Steve Levi has a voice that makes your heart skip a beat in anticipation, perfectly held in a moment in time. And so the gig ended, except really it only just begun.

The crowd went wild to bring back the band. They had been teased with the songs they had loved for two years, their faithful favourites and they wanted more.

Oi Va Voi returned triumphantly to play Ladino Song with the Flamenco beats fusing effortlessly with Steve Levi’s clarinet. This spiralled into Refugee, the crowd loved every second of this spirited song, especially when it broke into deep and dirty funk. The place was alive and a reprise of the single Yuri went down a treat as the audience obediently sang along. 

This is the band to see. If they can drop their masks earlier and leave the theatrics behind they may well get the wider audience that they fully deserve.