New Orleans goes marching on, Getintothis’ Michael Fowler testifies from a mardi gras-esque Mello Mello.
In a packed and animated Mello Mello, The Harlequin Dynamite Marching Band prepares to launch their second single, Loneliness.
The gig is free and the venue fits. Mello Mello jazz café has served as more to the Dynamites than just a venue – it’s their practice room, hang out and spiritual home.
To start the night, Harlequin pals, Emily and the Faves, serve us with their twangy surf guitars. Emily Lansley’s wispy voice is accompanied with mad backing vocal effects that vary from a falsetto laughing gnome to a baritone chorus of monks.
Dead Hedge Trio follows with a newly enlisted funk bassist filling out the already large sound of their saxophone, guitar and drum tripod. People are dancing in seconds as Dead Hedge sax’ player, Nick Branton, kicks off this bunch of beatniks with a seizure of saxophone hysteria.
Nick’s a 50s throwback straight out of a Kerouac novel and in between his frantic solos, he whoops and clicks his fingers and hollers “YEAH!“, while Rory Ballantyne shreds and Metty holds the solid jazz beat.
By the final song, Nick’s violent saxophone makes a beautiful and unholy cacophony, his playing so intense, we fear he’ll collapse a lung. We’re all hoping he’s saved some for his next set, coming up in fifteen minutes, with the band of the night. It occurs to us now that something special’s going to happen.
We notice Emily Lansley has had a wardrobe change and a few people look significantly more gold and sparkly than before.
The venue has suddenly filled to burst and a screen is put up to play the Loneliness music video, a stop animation about a lonely, capricious and glittery, little monster.
As the video draws to a close the fire exit bursts open and The Harlequin Dynamite Marching Band emerge, playing their previous single, Jonah, a New Orleans style swinger of a tune.
The little loneliness monster returns, riding in on a trumpet and the venue starts getting down. Tonight the band is fourteen strong and you can feel it. They are big and they are loud.
Insane solos from trumpets, snare, sax and bassoons, and ever changing lead singers give the Harlequins a mad opportunist feel – and the audience all want to be involved screaming and rolling Rs at every opportunity.
Midway the percussion section make a four piece and perform a spectacularly timed composition, waving their drumsticks, thumping skins and clacking rims in absolute unison.
Then the moment comes to play the single: Loneliness’ fidgety brass goes off and their sub-bass synthesizer hits the audience’s core. The whole room is jumping and people are struggling to make their way inside the packed out venue. As the song breaks down and everything is slowed, the crowd are parted and a gold, sparkly orchestra of eleven shaky eggs shove to the front.
The Orchestra were led and seemingly possessed by a leader looking not dissimilar to Charles Manson, dressed in black and covered in gold eggs.
He hypnotises the orchestra and has them dancing like crazed evangelists. Loneliness kicks right back in and everyone gets fully into the shaking. With rapturous applause the Harlequins take off into the night and leave an audience chanting for more.
The Harlequin Dynamite Marching Band’s new single, Loneliness, is out now on Kazimier Records.
Further reading on Getintothis:
- Fiesta Bombarda – Spring Offensive, All We Are, Highfields, James Canty, Harlequin Dynamite Marching Band, Great Plain Sundance, Hedda Aronssen, Silent Sleep: Leaf, Bold Street