Larmer Tree Festival
Sunday 21st July 2013
Larmer Tree: Grupo Lokito on the Larmer Tree Stage (built 1890s)
Festivals are about surprises. I was standing at the back after reggae solo artist Clinton Fearon, discussing whether to go and grab something to eat before KT Tunstall came on stage at 8 o’clock. Just as I turned towards the food area, Grupo Lokito started playing, I turned back, and was still there at the end of their short set, my feet still moving nonstop.
Songlines describe them as “An uplifting set of songs with rich Congolese vocal harmonies, spicy soukous guitar lines and Cuban salsa rhythms.” I’m sure they’re right. It’s an eight piece band, two guitars, bass, drums, percussion, keyboards and two dancing singing male vocalists. Six of the band are, I assume Congolese extraction, while the drummer and the keyboard player look white. The keyboard player is Sara McGuiness who formed the band in 2006 with one of the singers, Jose Hendrix Ndelo.
The sound is sinuous, infectious. The lead guitar twists and turns like the Graceland backing, but then you have the different feel of the rhythm section. The keyboards are fascinating … piano on the bottom keyboard, while the top one replaces a horn section … good, but with a REAL horn section, they’d be perfect, though she employs trumpet sounds to great effect. At one point she took a Keith Emerson style (well, Nice era style) prog solo over the Caribbean rhythms and African guitar.
I wish I could comment on the lyrics, but I couldn’t understand a word, except I think at least one chorus was in French. The two male singers put on a great show, with a whole series of hand movements for the crowd to follow, and a move they called “Scooby Doo” which involved rising from a low crouch then doing synchronised body patting. Great to watch, great to listen to. On the way out, I went to the CD sales tent, but couldn’t find one. I would have bought one at once.