Last Saturday, The Albany in Deptford, London saw the renowned creative collective, OneTaste, put on an event South-East of the river for the first time. Having traipsed to the North, South West and central parts of London to catch some of their previous shows it was great to have the Collective do a gig in my neck of the woods. Hosted by acclaimed spoken-word artist and core OneTaste member, Inua Ellams (in a very giddy mood), this particular event was held in conjunction with the Takeover festival which aims to give a platform to talented local youngsters. The result was a mix of artists even more diverse than the usual eclectic ride one comes to expect from OneTaste.
Standout performances of the night included the band, Park Bench Poet [pictured above] who served as a very good lesson on why a book shouldn’t be judged by its cover. The lead singer sported skinny jeans and a Hoxditch haircut, looking like the front-man of any generic indie rock band. Thankfully their sound was far more refreshing; estuarial folk laced with half-sung/half-spoken socially conscious lyrics. Park Bench Poet’s music is soulful and the effect lingering-certainly ones to watch.
OneTaste regular Gideon Conn [pictured above] also made a welcome return to the stage. For those unfamiliar with Mr Conn’s work, imagine George Formby having a creative run-in with the Flower-power Hip-Hop of the late 80s/early 90s. The Mancunian musician’s wide-eyed bewilderment betrays a razor-sharp wit. Ever the humorous anecdotalist this eccentric singer-songwriter introduced each song with bizarre and random tales of, for instance, airport mishaps and the joys of Cambridge architecture and pastry-making. Conn’s music reflects a similar sense of intelligent humour as well as sensitivity without being mawkish. His set was elevated by his performance of a personal favourite, the 2007 single, ‘I want you around (for this melody)’, a tune with possibly some of the prettiest chords this side of ’50 ways to leave your lover’ or ‘Forget I was a G’.
Other artists featured on the bill included Daisy Kelly-Granger. Led by vocalist Daisy and her right-side-of sweet voice, Saturday’s show actually marked the acoustic trio’s farewell performance as they prepared to disband in pursuit of solo projects. Another OneTaste veteran Bridgette Amofah [pictured above] also made a cameo appearance. As a performer this Ghanaian beauty is adequate but her music never seems to rise above the pedestrian and Saturday’s offering was more of the same.
Perhaps the most peculiar set of the night came courtesy of MCs Conrad the Scoundrel and Spitfire [pictured above], a couple of local lads initially posing as straightforward poets before launching into some clever Grime lyrics delivered at bullet-speed. He’s not called Spitfire for nothing. It’s not normally a genre to which I’d give the time of day but these two rappers were pretty convincing. Spitfire even gave a taste of the mellower, more pensive aspect of his artistry when he recited a few lines from a piece on domestic violence. The work was so moving and his delivery so adept that it was a pity not to hear more of the same from this sharp young wordsmith. Alas, you can’t always get what you want.
OneTaste at the Albany yet again proved that it’s the Collective’s knack for putting on consistently high quality events that has set them apart from other UK showcases, earning them the solid reputation that they deserve.
Photography by Kim-Leng Anita Hills