Ruby And The Vines live at Archangel, London | Gig Review

In some respects three piece Ruby and The Vines are the result of what happens when the multiculturalism of London surfaces as a musical style. Part West African Highlife, part melancholy and lethargic post-Punk, part ’80s Reggae and, most importantly, part exuberance and allure. The band were at West London’s Archangel on June 21 to promote their debut EP Red Storm, where they performed to a fairly small though high-spirited audience.

First on their tracklist for the night was ‘Circles’, a song, which seems almost totally defined by vocalist Binisa Bonner’s playful bass strumming and sharp thrusting chords courtesy of guitarist Greg Hands. While the sense of intuition between the musicians on this one is good Bonner’s lead vocal seems to flounder slightly, going too deep and making the song’s lyrics difficult to understand in the midst of musical textures, which might favour higher notes. Despite this the song proves to be a worthy introduction, not so much pummelling the crowd with a sea of sounds but drawing them in with it’s melodic charm.

By the time RATV have reached track four, titled ‘Mouths To Feed,’ Bonner’s presence has grown fiercer and her vocals have lightened up somewhat, while drummer Ben Assiter’s rapid work on the high hat is notably intrepid.

Despite the above though it is the turbulent river of rifts generated via Hands’ guitar that steels the song. Similar can be said of track five (a cover of Miriam Makeba’s ‘Kulala’) although Bonner shows more progression on this, her voice this time sounding confident and formidable yet fragile.

Tracks six through to nine more or less highlighted the peak of RATV’s talents. EP title track ‘Red Storm’ for example is a delightful fusion of Reggae style bass playing and vocals from Bonner along with furious Afro Beat like drums from Assiter. The song makes for a competent and fun performance.

By the time the London based band are doing a rendition of ‘Kept From Our Eyes,’ which they claim will be the final song for the evening, the chemistry in the room has changed almost completely. Whereas in the beginning the audience clapped and cheered mostly for the sake of being polite, they instead applauded out of genuine approval. And whereas earlier Bonner smiled nervously as she introduced herself and the band, she instead smiled with a confidence to match the exultant flavour of the songs.

Before finally leaving the stage the crowd insists on an encore and RATV are happy to oblige. As the track (which is a remarkable cover of The Wailers’ ‘No Sympathy’) is played, it becomes clear that for a band that only formed in the last year they have developed miraculously well and that if they evolve as organically and as sumptuously over the next few years as they have within this performance, they might eventually become something beautiful.

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