Voodoo Ball summoned the spirits and raised hell at the Kazimier, Getintothis’ Emma Walsh said a prayer as she dived headfirst into a night of life, death and malevolent spirits.
Any alternative to the stream of fishnet tights and fake blood that is now an intrinsic part of commercialised Halloween is right up our Nightmare on Elm Street.
Thankfully Rebel Soul provided exactly that with their Cabaret of Chaos on Wolstenholme Square. Face-painted, glittered and full of the kanaval spirit (or rum as it’s more commonly known), Getintothis turned up (fashionably late of course) to see what the Voodoo Ball had to offer.
On arrival we immediately felt under-dressed; not half enough glitter or facepaint, or decorative skulls.
The voodoo parade in full screaming skull spirit
Stepping into the Kazimier was like stepping onto the movie set for Antigua in Pirates of the Caribbean, with traditional African dancers throwing some tribal shapes onstage to a blurred crowd of sugar candy skulls, feathered heads and Mardi Gras masks.
Thrashing out Senegalese dance music on bongos, brass, bass and strings Mamadou and the Super Libidor Band had bewitched the audience into a flailing of limbs and hip gyrations that made it impossible to distinguish one person from the next.
One dancer who did stand out from the crowd was the young man in nothing but a feathered garland and Brazilian speedos, who had no reservations about stealing the limelight.
His enthusiastic movements may just have been an effort to keep warm though; far from the beaches of Rio de Janeiro you are now, son.
Mamadou at Voodoo Ball at Kazimier, Liverpool
Speaking of Brazilians, it was Latin Grammy-winning Orquestra Contemporanea de Olinda up next, stirring up a mixing pot of jazz, reggae and hip-hop influences with a sound unmistakably Brazilian.
The band practically exude colour and energy as they invade the crowd with a barrage of salsa moves, drumsticks and trombones appearing now and again above the sea of headdresses and skulls on sticks.
Heads swimming in a haze of latin grooves and carnival spirit, the Kazimier seemed to have somehow become detached from the rest of Liverpool, displaced somewhere along the equator for the evening.
It was hard to believe that it was raining outside but Batala, the Liverpool percussion group, didn’t need to be convinced having led the carnival parade down Bold Street earlier in the evening.
The beat of their drums had been the Pied Piper who called the revellers to party and continuing their puppet mastery of the audience they took over the dance floor, leading the crowd in a wave of rising and falling bodies.
They drummed loud enough to wake the dead at Voodoo Ball at Kazimier, Liverpool
The drum wielding band of percussionists stamped and beat out a rhythm of Mardi Gras volumes and hypnotizing power, even distracting Inc.A as they prepared for their set on stage. In a final flair the drummers bowed out and yet another jaw-dropping performance began.
Inc.A, a Welsh mix of jazz, Eastern European folk, Arabic and Balkan styles bring an all inclusive world music to a wider audience with a drum and bass backbone and hip hop rhythms to create something altogether mesmerising and exhausting.
These guys have real gusto and an exhilarating sound that demands enthusiastic movement of the hips.
Inc.A are perfect for such an event, coming as they do in full fancy dress on almost every occasion and a double bass player in full suit of armor.
As Inc.A bring the crowd to the dizzy voodoo heights of their final songs it’s hard to believe that any band could follow such a performance and hope to top it.
Fire Beneath The Sea at Voodoo Ball at Kazimier, Liverpool
The Fire Beneath the Sea seemed perfectly up for the challenge. Crowding onto the Kazimier stage in various face-painted guises, the MCs, vocalists, brass section and band kick off for the final performance of the night.
Looking a little like members of the audience who had just wandered onstage for a bit of a dance, and sounding undeniably like a brassed up Goldie Lookin’ Chain rapping over a flurry of ska magic, Fire Beneath the Sea reignited the crowd’s enthusiasm.
The chaos and euphoria reached a climactic finish bringing the Voodoo Ball to a close, as least for my tired dancing shoes.
As Halloween alternatives go, its always refreshing to see an event where sexy cats are likely to be sacrificed to the gods.
Pictures by James Jebson.
Further reading on Getintothis:
Liverpool’s gig calendar 2013: Guide to essential gigs not to miss the rest of this year
Fiesta Bombarda – Fire Beneath The Sea, Extra Love, River Niger Orchestra, Coffee and Cakes For Funerals and more: The Kazimier, Liverpool – picture gallery
Africa Oyé – the top 10 performances from twenty years of exotic excellence
Toots and the Maytals, We, the Undersigned: O2 Academy, Liverpool
Culture featuring Kenyatta Hill: The Picket, Liverpool