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Mansion of Snakes & Tantz bring down the Picture House

10 May 2018

Earlier in April fans of world music and global beats found themselves flocking to the Abbeydale Picture House to catch a double headline show of Leeds-based bands Mansion of Snakes and Tantz. A collaborative effort between promoters and organisations Soul Rebels, Inner City Events, CADS, and Hop Hideout saw the historic ex-cinema playing host to the sounds of live Balkan-Beat, Gypsy Jazz, Afrobeat and “Devil Funk”.

Those passing the ticket stalls and entering the main hall found themselves hit with a warming blast of tropical atmosphere as DJ Danny of “Sounds Like This” set out his stall for the evening with  his signature broad, leftfield collection of Latin and Funk records that has made his radio show on Sheffield Live a hit with the station.

Even early in the evening there are many in attendance sitting and soaking up vibes as the smell of Turkish coffee wafts over from across the bar. As a lady wearing a gigantic feather  glides towards the dancefloor and the appetizing aroma of the dishes from Tixxy Bang’s ‘Bang Chef’ pop-up Caribbean restaurant fill the space it seems clear that everything in the Abbeydale Picture House tonight is attempting to whisk us away from Sheffield and towards warmer climes.

Coming on-stage to rapturous applause the 11 strong troop of Mansion of Snakes rocket the room from warm to sizzling as they launch into their first track of the evening. Atop a backdrop of psychedelic visuals, the band lays out their particular brand of Afro-Cuban beats which feels informed by the sounds of Jazz, Post-Punk and Fela Kuti-esque Afrobeat sounds. The Mansion of Snakes comprise of multiple brass instruments, a vocalist, guitarists, a bassist and a smattering of percussion and this is all they need to create a real melting pot of flamboyant energy that forms their “cosmic jazz” signature sound. Clearly taking inspiration from far and wide their music is tinted with funk, Cuban rhythms and finds itself embellished with the subtle use of a ‘shekere’ – a West African percussion instrument. As they push into their set it’s hard not to get caught up by the bands pounding percussion and blazing horn section as the energy full throng of ecstatic dancers at the front finds itself cascading back as even those at the back wiggle their hips tremendously.

Following a brief intermission, the second of the double headlining bands Tantz take to the stage. Following closely to their mantra ‘A Tantz gig is not a gig, it’s a party’ the band blast straight into an ensemble of duelling clarinets, guitars and violins atop a solid bedrock of solid rhythm provided for them by a tightly interlocked drummer and bassist. In contrast to the Afro-Cuban vibe of their stage-mates Mansion of Snakes, Tantz seem to draw from the Klezmer, Gypsy-Jazz and Balkan Beat end of the musical spectrum. As the clarinet leads the band into a frenzy the rhythm creeps to an almost standstill before rising gradually again in tempo before crescendoing into an outburst of break-neck speed from the musicians. The crowd wilfully follow raising their feet and picking up the pace. As the room throbs in approval, gratitude and the unspoken acknowledgement of a night to remember at the Abbeydale Picture House.

Photography: Ellie Grace Photography
Videography: Saverio Maggio