Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Excitements at the Jazz Cafe

There are only a few original sixties soul stars performing regularly today so the emergence of Sharon Jones and her Daptone co-artists have given old school soul a fantastic boost. But now there's a new kid on the block - The Excitements, a band from Barcelona which features a dynamic singer called Koko-Jean Davis.
I had a look at them on Youtube the other day and then caught the band on the Andrew Marr TV show on Sunday singing Ha Ha Ha, a track from their latest album, Sometimes Too Much Ain't Enough, convincing me to hot foot it to the Jazz Cafe to catch them in action last night. I was not disappointed. The six man band is great, but it's the singer that really creates the excitement.
Koko-Jean Davis was born in Mozambique but grew up in the States, before moving to Spain where she teamed up with the other band members. She's got a soulful voice, great looks, a slim figure and a furious, all action and very sexy stage presence. She really rocked, never stopping moving as the band moved swiftly from one original song to another. Think a young Tina Turner from her Ike and Tina days, or a youthful Sugar Pie DeSanto, or maybe Etta James. That's how good Koko-Jean is.
The band's first album came out in 2011 and their new one was issued last year on the Penniman label but they passed me  by at the time, so I wasn't familiar with the songs, which included frantic soul numbers and relatively tender ballads. Among them were Don't You Dare Tell Me, Tell Me Where I Stand, Ha Ha Ha, I've Bet and I Lost Again, Keep Your Hands Off, Fishing Pole, the ballad Give Me Back, I Do The Jerk, I Believe You and Wait A Minute.
Koko-Jean wore a ridiculously short pink mini dress for the first half which left little to the imagination and strutted around the stage with immense confidence. After a short break during which the band played a couple of Mar-Keys style instrumentals, she returned wearing a tassly mauve number reminiscent of those early videos of Tina Turner in the Ike Turner revue. Her voice was slightly overwhelmed by the band at times but powerful enough and she had enough energy and personality to keep the audience excited throughout, and plenty of on stage action. Definitely a band to watch.
Words and photos by Nick Cobban.


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