BREVIEW: The Exorcist @ REP 21.10 – 05.11.16

Joseph Wilkins as Father Joe and Clare Louise Connolly as Regan in The Exorcist / By Robert Day

Words by Ed King / Production pics from Robert Day

The Exorcist didn’t scare me, when I first saw Blatty’s existential/ethereal see-saw on screen at the Odeon. It was a midnight showing, the entire audience was under some influence or another, and I was a precocious 18 year old not about to be frightened by ‘the scariest movie of all time’. Surely nothing was going to be that shocking, not even the violent and blasphemous masturbation of a possessed 10 year old. Pass the popcorn mother.

As the REP fills out tonight I am reminded of that witching hour screening. Nervous laughter rolls around the packed auditorium, fueled by the tacit titillation you find in an Alton Towers queue, whilst an ominous swirling sound escorts us to our seats. Fun and fear are both thick in the air. I jump at a loud bang through the tannoy, then laugh, then notice that the REP has deep red carpets.

Todd Boyce as Doctor Strong Clare Louise Connolly as Regan and Jenny Seagrove as Chris in The Exorcist / By Robert DayI also notice the potential pitfall to this production, as my friend points out all the film t-shirts being worn in homage tonight. The Exorcist is a spectacle, and for Pielmeier’s redrafted stage adaptation to claw back any sense of serious threat there is considerable work to do. Even if you’ve never seen the 1973 film or read the 1971 book, chances are you’ll know some of the story’s iconography. And we all want to see her head turn round 180 degrees.

I begin to wonder if this was such a good idea, culturally speaking, before the house lights are ripped away and we are thrown into an elongated darkness. Are we on the cusp of another, albeit darker, Rocky Horror Picture Show? In years to come will the audience be squirting silly string instead of projectile vomit? Will we shout ‘Ronald’ when the dialogue says ‘Regan’?

More laughter, more darkness. Less laughter, more darkness. More darkness. Silence now. More darkness. Mist appears and we are no longer alone. The spotlight falls on Father Merrin discovering the statue of Pazuzu, as he turns and voices a weary fear to the world.

More darkness.

Enter the MacNeils…

Beautifully lit, with obvious but well timed transitions from stark light to pitch black, The Exorcist looks great on stage. The MacNeil’s house is represented through a detached attic, a comfortably lit living room, nervous hallways, and of course that bedroom. We move from inside to out, from safety to danger, with simple yet effective techniques maintaining the necessary menace. Imagery of tortured souls and restrained torsos illuminate the occasional shadowy corner, whilst the projected wall paper surrounding Regan’s bed is manipulated to superb effect. Only the apocryphal stone stairs – that claim two bodies in the film adaptation – are left unseen.

Sound also plays a large part in delivering The Exorcist on stage – especially in our distinctions between good and evil, with the guttural shift in Ian McKellan’s Captain Howdy/The Devil voice over marking the rising anger of the beast. Never has the word ‘prize’ been uttered with such icy intent. Arguably though, even more could have been done here, with the audio lacking some of the punches that the visual throws out; if we’re going to get blinded, we can be deafened a bit too.

The cast has been stripped back to the principals akin to the Batty penned original, with Pielmeier’s sophomore stage show having had ‘a major re-write, refocusing the script entirely’ – eradicating some oddly superfluous support characters and reference points. No one mentions Rwanda on stage tonight.

Jenny Seagrove plays a wholly believable and tortured matriarch, if not a little stuck in her character at times, bouncing off the solid support from a divisively alcohol dependent Uncle Burke – played by Tristram Wymark. Ancillary characters come and go, providing useful context and bite sized development but having no real moment to shine. Likewise, Andy Garcia is given only a handful of chances to show the despair and internal rage that controls the conflicted Karras – and therefore the story’s premise. Two minutes with a punch bag and an internal monologue just isn’t enough.

But the absolute success from The Exorcist’s cast list is Claire Louise Connolly, who turns the cloying Regan into a sarcastic Satan – armed with a frighteningly endearing volley of retorts to Karras’s questions, assumptions and accusations… with a little help from Ian McKellan. But the interaction between these two (or three) characters, especially when dissecting Jesus’s martyrdom, is wonderful – and even with her hands tied, Connolly owns every facet of each character she is a conduit for. Superb stuff.

Joseph Wilkins as Father Joe and Adam Garcia as Father Damien Karras in The Exorcist / By Robert DayThe weakness with The Exorcist, as adapted for the stage, comes in the writing. Presented like a series of sketches we miss the chance to see more character development, to feel the tension build through the actors and not just the acts. The oddly dependent, supportive, yet potentially dangerous world of ego and one liners that Chris (Seagrove) and Burke (Wymark) share could have blossomed into something so much more; both actors had a firm grip but not enough road.

Likewise Andy Garcia had much more to give us, with the philosophical banter between Regan/The Devil and Father Karras being stand out scenes in terms of dialogue – there just aren’t enough of them. Even Peter Bowles, who works immediately as the perturbed and detached Father Merrin, is so oddly cut out of the end narrative I almost wonder if Equity were involved. The second half of The Exorcist was just too quick and too dirty, with a rather hurried text missing opportunities to elevate itself above an evil pantomime. And once you see a child stick a silver cross where the sun doesn’t shine, you don’t really need to see it again.

Friedkin’s film excelled on the gore, and maintained some of the religious and intellectual threads that bound Blatty’s original prose together; The Exorcist is about a possessed girl, and all the horror that comes with her, but it’s Father Karras’s struggle with his own faith that defines the novel. The subtext is morality and martyrdom; if there is a loving God, then why… and all that introspection. But John Pielmeier’s adaptation to the stage still lacks gravitas, linguistically at least, with some dialogue even feeling verbatim to that in the film. And whilst I have not yet found the balls (or time) to cross reference this fully, I feel a little cheated.

You could easily, happily, and arguably should, add 30mins to the second half of The Exorcist as a stage production, writing a handful of (new) dialogue led scenes and evolving the conversations with The Devil (especially about its seeming focus of “burning another priest on my fire”) to make this a much richer tapestry.the-exorcist-text-webcol-crop

Although The Exorcist on stage, this time around, is a triumph for the actors involved – one so well earned it made me stand up to clap. Something I’m not overly eager to do. Using used often stale and trite lines, or bizarrely spoon feed plot points, the cast still managed to make me care.

Sean Mathias has delivered his creative brief with aplomb (one which could have fallen into the trap of over familiarity or schlock horror) through a hard working ensemble who simply deserved better words to work with. The Exorcist currently being performed is definatley worth seeing, even if you’ve never cared for its previous incarnations.

And whilst The Exorcist is still not scary, I can live with being able to sleep well at night. Just give me an intelligent battle between good and evil to mull over when the lights go out.


The Exorcist runs at the Birmingham REP until 5th November. For direct info, including show times & online ticket sales, visit 

For more from the Birmingham REP, visit


BREVIEW: Post Paradise – feat. Zach Dawson, Paul Zaba, Louis D’Heudieres @ Centrala (Minerva Works) 23.09.16

Post Paradise – feat. Zach Dawson, Paul Zaba, Louis D’Heudieres @ Centrala (Minerva Works) 23.09.16 / Pics by Michelle Martin © Birmingham Review

**This event was given a Birmingham Review by Sam James and Ed King, both are presented below. The pictures featured are from Reuben Penny and Michelle Martin.**


Words by Sam James / Pics by Reuben Penny

As much as I hate to say it in such a public forum, but the part of the old library complex I miss the most is Paradise Circus. I used to spend a lot of time in the Wetherspoons in there, not to mention regularly making myself ill from daily eat4less lunches.Post Paradise – feat. Zach Dawson, Paul Zaba, Louis D’Heudieres @ Centrala (Minerva Works) 23.09.16 / Pics by Reuben Penny

It seems this group of Conservatoire and ex-Conservatoire composers feel the same way; they named their new concert series after it (though perhaps it’s because Post-Adrian Boult Hall doesn’t roll off the tongue so easily).

There were three pieces from three different composers on show at the first Post-Paradise event, here at Centrala.

The first half was totally comprised of one piece – ‘end’ by Zach Dawson. An extended (~40mins) work for synth organ (Will Weir), saxophone (Sam Taylor) and sampler (Zach Dawson); I can’t say this piece did much for me.

A little more time spent soundchecking this could have proved useful, as certain organ notes went straight through my head. A piece of music generally shouldn’t cause physical discomfort, and I don’t think I was the only one shielding their ears from these segments.

Constructed from a series of repeating section, generally in the same order, and with little variation within them, I found myself more interested in counting the beats rest in one section that appeared to be a series of fake out endings than in the material itself.

Post Paradise – feat. Zach Dawson, Paul Zaba, Louis D’Heudieres @ Centrala (Minerva Works) 23.09.16 / Pics by Reuben PennyOn the other hand, the final section was actually pretty exciting as climaxes go, with a higher level of complexity than the rest of the piece. It’s just a pity that the audience were so distrustful of the ending they didn’t clap for a good while. The piece that cried wolf.

Act 2 was ‘Neck Riddles’, a piece by Paul Zaba scored for viola (Daniel Galbreath), trumpet (Zach Dawson), accordion (Paul Zaba) and cello (Ursula Miethe). Full of colour and wit, it’s nice to hear counterpoint and motif led music still being practised with this degree of skill.

The ensemble, led by Galbreath, were on point, blending and contrasting with one another nicely.

The last piece of the night was a little different than the other two, in that there were no musical instruments involved. ‘Vox Pop’ by London-based Louis d’Heurdieres had four performers (Andy Ingamells, James Oldham, Sam Taylor and Maya Verlaak) sat on a sofa, each with EarPods in. The piece began with the each of the performers describing in turn what they were listening to.

“Low strings, now brass – so much brass”

“Rising pattern in the strings becoming its own motif”

It was really quite an effective way of evoking the sort of emotional response you might get from a stirring orchestral performance, without actually hearing one.

As the piece progressed, the performers reacted to a series of prompts in their headphones (perhaps in the form of interview questions, given the title?) each had their own individual style and flair, but all had an equal and supreme level of commitment. By the end, Ingamells was slumped in his chair, Taylor had his head bowed, Oldham was barely opening his mouth and Verlaak was bouncing in her seat manically.Post Paradise – feat. Zach Dawson, Paul Zaba, Louis D’Heudieres @ Centrala (Minerva Works) 23.09.16 / Pics by Reuben Penny

Engaging, and towards the end, funny; this was an enjoyable performance.

The long rectangular shape of Centrala lent itself happily to a traditional concert set up, with performers sat at one end in front of rows of seats. Unhappily, as a result of this (as well as of the under-lighting illuminating the music stands rather than the performers faces), it was quite difficult to see from my vantage point at the back.

I suspect they’ve already thought in detail about this, but it would be nice to see the organisers try something more adventurous with the room layout next time – perhaps having audience and performers standing, or performing across the room rather than along it. There’s no point leaving the concert hall if you’re just going to bring it with you.

Overall though, Post-Paradise was a success; run smoothly, with a well put-together programme and a welcoming atmosphere. The plan (so I’m told) is to make this a regular monthly evening, so keep your eyes peeled for the next installment.


Words by Ed King / Pics by Michelle Martin

Post Paradise – feat. Zach Dawson, Paul Zaba, Louis D’Heudieres @ Centrala (Minerva Works) 23.09.16 / Pics by Michelle Martin © Birmingham ReviewAs usual, I’m running late. Albeit later than usual.

Most of my friends and colleagues know I’ll be at least ten minutes behind, having studied the Ed King Ticking Clock Theory of Linear Time. But tonight I’m meeting Sam James – a local composer who is helping me cover Birmingham’s contemporary music scene – and Sam won’t know running late is kind of ‘my thing’. I hope he doesn’t perceive me as rude, the next stop after arrogance and two before pretension; I would understand if he did.

We eventually reach Post-Paradise as the first of tonight’s composers, the Birmingham Conservatoire bred Zach Dawson, is about 5mins into ‘end’ – a 40min piece including synth, sax and samples.

The three musicians stand/sit in a line at the far end of the room, in front of a packed theatre style audience – mostly made up of Conservatoire attendees or alumni, and healthy in numbers. We tip toe into position along the back wall, as other later latecomers find space on the floor; each chair is already taken.

Dawson’s ensemble face the crowd directly, static and showing little emotion; it feels a touch awkward. By the time we arrive ‘end’ has already begun, so there may be pieces of the puzzle missed – but fairly quickly I feel the repetition and tide-like layers become rather tired and cyclical. Timed pauses separate each section; heavy, deep and elongated single organ notes acting as segue in the absence of silence.

Maybe the context was made more clear at the start, and my lack of time keeping has spanked us accordingly, but I can’t help but feel I’m watching an unnecessary jigsaw being put back together. And if you have to wait for your audience to awkwardly realise you’ve finished, perhaps that’s a swing and a miss too.

Post Paradise – feat. Zach Dawson, Paul Zaba, Louis D’Heudieres @ Centrala (Minerva Works) 23.09.16 / Pics by Michelle Martin © Birmingham Review(I’m not a musician. I have not studied music. I have ears, a heart, and the ability to write, but not technically. And whilst I become more and more embroiled with the contemporary composers I discover, from Nils Frahm to Poppy Ackroyd, I need knowledge by my side if I am to tackle this editorially. This is where Sam James comes in.)

Zach Dawson remains on stage for the second presentation – a live rendition of ‘Neck Riddles’ from accordionist and composer, Paul Zaba. The first track on his Soundcloud page, I skipped through ‘Neck Riddles’ during my research – finding little in it to hold my interest against Zaba’s more pertinent pieces. But live, this illustrative instrumental has much more to offer.

Dawson and Zaba lead the charge with staccato from their muted trumpet and accordion, respectively. It’s rich and punchy, underpinned by the sharp strings from the ensemble’s viola and cello. Glorious and immediate; I am surprised by the live dynamic that soon has me hooked.

The piece hot foots its way through a sustained and controlled build – nervous and resolute, like approaching big game – before the accordion steps up, with Dawson’s trumpet given a halo like sheen from its neighbouring viola. Simple in construction, without ostentatious flair or complexity, ‘Neck Riddles’ is beautifully pictorial; a high pitched game of cat and mouse, I am jumping form taxi cab to taxi cab, following Audrey Hepburn and a diamond around the autumn streets of New York. Wonderful stuff.

Post Paradise – feat. Zach Dawson, Paul Zaba, Louis D’Heudieres @ Centrala (Minerva Works) 23.09.16 / Pics by Michelle Martin © Birmingham ReviewFollowing a short interval, a craft beer, and a mingle through the cigarette friendly crowd, we have tonight’s final act – a performance piece from Louis D’Heudieres, the only non Birmingham based (or Conservatoire bred) composer on the bill. D’Heudieres is so unashamedly eclectic I stopped trying to describe him in the Post-Paradise BPREVIEW, with theatre, interpretation and cross media presentations all playing large parts in his portfolio.

We have been promised a new piece at Post-Paradise tonight, and as four familiar faces sit next to each other on a sofa – facing towards and through the audience – it appears to be an evolution of D’Heudieres’ ‘Laughter Studies’.

In a nutshell, each performer is isolated from the audience – listening to an audio track through individual headphones – whilst the composer sends instructions to each member of the human ensemble on how to manifest what they are hearing. The audience doesn’t know what the audio track is, but can only decipher the material from the interpretations presented to them – conducted and arranged by D’Heudieres’ earphone relayed instructions. As a concept, it’s as adventurous as it is avant garde, and sounds more complicated than it looks when presented. And it works, with absurdly solid commitment from the four protagonists on the sofa; within minutes we are craning our necks and laughing.

Post Paradise – feat. Zach Dawson, Paul Zaba, Louis D’Heudieres @ Centrala (Minerva Works) 23.09.16 / Pics by Michelle Martin © Birmingham ReviewSCREAM. Maya walks through simple descriptions, whilst James brings a more technical edge to the narrative floor.  Sam takes a more colloquial approach as Andy’s voice drops from loud to soft. They talk in order, they talk simultaneously. They reverse the order as Andy slumps into his seat. Annunciation turn to mumbles; Maya and Sam turn to face each other in a sycophantic grin. Maya starts to ride a horse (or bounce for the sake of it) as Andy reels through fairy tale icons.

I have no idea what the music is, or if indeed they are all listening to music, but the presentation is superb. And with my hands comfortably tied I can acquiesce to the sheer joy of the performance.

(I am later challenged to guess, from one of the performers and a man with a much wider knowledge of classical material. Instinctively I think of Peer Gynt – the line ‘the oboe takes over’ alongside mountains and dwarves pushing Grieg’s incidental into the forefront of my mind – but was subsequently told Wagner. Not my wheelhouse.)

Post Paradise – feat. Zach Dawson, Paul Zaba, Louis D’Heudieres @ Centrala (Minerva Works) 23.09.16 / Pics by Michelle Martin © Birmingham ReviewAll in all tonight has been rousing and a success; Post-Paradise is a welcome celebration of contemporary compositions, and at five quid a pop it is a cheap as it is cheerful. Centrala, the Minerva Works based café & gallery, is an intimate, warm and welcoming venue with a good sound and lots of scope. A little back end of beyond, but only a 10 min walk from either The Custard factory or Millennium Point.

My only problem was with context, or the lack thereof. It’s great to be challenged, and the unexplained is just another reason to explore, but with more understanding of each piece tonight I could have been more engaged. The room was full of those that know and those that are learning, but if you’re going to invite the general public to watch your art in action, some helpful introductions would be just that.

And whilst my tardiness is ‘just me’ and my somewhat frantic approach to finding my shoes (that and the Bermuda Triangle that resides in my living room) I can appreciate the new faces I met tonight might have their own perception. Mercifully they still want to keep me company, and for the next Post-Paradise, which I look forward to immensely, I will be on time. It’s only polite after all, and who wants to dance alone these days anyway.

For more on Zach Dawson, visit

For more on Paul Zaba, visit

For more on Louis D’Heudieres, visit


Follow Post Paradise @PostParadiseMus

For more from Centrala, visit


BPREVIEW: The Rin Tins @ Swingamajig 2016 – Rainbow Venues 01.05.16

The Rin Tins

Words by Ed King

2 days to go…

Main with web colour bcg - lrOne of my introductions to this thing they call swing, in an electro sense of course, were The Rin Tins. I first saw them at the Hot Club De SwingSwingamajig Warm Up last year, at the Hare & Hounds, when I had been drafted in to cover a rouge photographer who was too busy sleeping.

Yet despite my gigs shots from that night never making it into the wide world of the web, I was suitably impressed with the style, fervor and musicianship of this Bristol based sextet – keeping them in sight if not online ever since. Fetch my braces Marjorie, I feel a Charleston coming on.

swingamajigComprised of three guitarists, a drummer, a pianist, and a saxophonist/clarinetist/youth liaison officer, The Rin Tins are a tight ensemble – with a stage show that combines humour, narrative and a healthy medley of style and song.

They look and sound the part, then change the part, then look and sound the part again – all whilst being quite absurdly talented and entertaining. And I’m a cynic by default; Breaking Bad was a terrible series.

But I guess that’s to be expected from the ‘definable Bristolian party band’ who have been honing their sets across stages, pubs and green field sites since 2011 – when The Rin Tins became The Rin Tins.I'm the One EP - The Rin Tins

And Birmingham will get to see them in action again too, as The Rin Tins return to Swingamajg – playing The Arch Stage at 18:45.

Just about the time you want a cheeky chai, a mouth full of samosa (available from the Birmingham Review Chai Stall… plug, plug) a sneaky a snifter of rum and a bloody good knees up. And when you’re staring into the Bank Holiday abyss of well dressed debauchery, The Rin Tins wouldn’t be a bad place to start.

But in the interests of integrity don’t just take my word for it; have a stop, look and listen to The Rin Tins at Swingamajig 2015 – once again playing underneath the arches. Viddy, as always, below:

‘Donde Esta el Cartero?’ / The Rin Tins @ Swingamajig 2015

And if you need some more homework check out The Rin Tins‘ I’m the One EP, available for an internal haggle through the band’s Bandcamp page – click here.

Or simply shake your shimmy along to Swingamajig’s Arch Stage on Sunday evening… we’ll see you down front.

Other acts appearing at on The Arch Stage are Dark Circus (15:00), Manushka (16:04), The After Hours Quintet (17:25), Gypsies of Bohemia (20:05), Barbarella’s Bang Bang (21:30) + KOG and Zongo Brigade (23:00)  

Swingamajig 2016 comes the Rainbow Venues in Digbeth on May 1st – running form 2pm until 6am. Tickets are priced at £22/£25/£30.

For the full Swingamagig line up, alongside everything else you need to know about the festival – including online tickets, visit


For more on The Rin Tins, visit

For more on Rainbow Venues, visit

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BPREVIEW: The Tootsie Rollers @ Swingamajig 2016 – Rainbow Venues 01.05.16

The Tootsie Rollers - High Tea at Richmond ParkWords by Ed King / Pics from The Tootsie Rollers Main with web colour bcg - lr

6 days to go…

In BIG BOLD TYPE on the Swingamajig 2016 bill are The Tootsie Rollers – bringing their all girl line up of mischievous glitz and femme fatale glamour to the best dressed festival in Birmingham.

Comprised of six styled and sassy lasses from darn sarf, The Tootsie Rollers ‘are a retro girl band who fuse old-school classics with contemporary hits’ – reworking modern chart familiars with their homage to a catalogue of Swing standards.

Backed by their booted and suitably named band, The Dappers, a Tootise Rollers’ set can give Pharell Williams’ ‘swingamajigHappy’ a rouge blush, Lordes’ ‘Royal’ a sparkling new smile, Rhianna’s ‘Umbrella’ a touch of the Gene Kelly, and make Meghan Tranior’s ‘…Bass’ pale in comparison – with a little help from George Gershwin of course. Great fun, and arguably sexier the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain.

So who are these debutantes of debauchery? First up we have Katy, aka ‘the poppet’ – who ‘is cheeky, lively and cute’ and the blonde doppelganger of someone I used to work with (…Christina?). Next up is the ‘enchanting and seductive’ Khiley, aka ‘The Siren’, who’s hopeless romanticism may cost more than an H. Samuel gift voucher, followed by the ‘wide eyed, charming and loyal’ Anna – aka ‘The Sweetheart’.

Flo, aka ‘The Bombshell’, is the ‘epitome of old school glamour’, whilst Lisa, aka ‘The Diva’, has a self confessed The Tootsie Rollers - High Tea at Richmond Park‘penchant for the decadent’ which no doubt earned her the high maintenance moniker. Then last but not least is Meg, aka ‘The Peach’ – a ‘5th avenue princess’ who strikes a remarkable resemblance to Grace Kelly. With a bit of Audrey Hepburn round the eyes. Blimey, it’s like a hen party from heaven.

But it’s serious fun with The Tootsie Rollers, whose website boasts collaborations ‘with everyone from DJ Yoda to Bruce Forsyth’ and a recent sell out show at the 1340 capacity London Hippodrome. Hard to argue with that CV.

Birmingham will get its chance to see The Tootsies for itself when they roll into town as part of the Swingamajig 2016 headline bill – kicking off across the Rainbow Venues on Sunday 1st May.

Meanwhile, back at the speakeasy…

‘All About That Bass/Slap That Bass’ (Meghan Trainor/George Gershwin) – performed by The Tootise Rollers & The Dappers

Other acts appearing at Swingamajig 2016 are The Destroyers, JFB, Electric Swing Circus, Balkan Beat Box, The After Hours Quintet, Jim Wynn Swing Orchestra, C@ in the H@, The Chicken Brothers, Aries, Tallulah Goodtimes, Jenova Collective (DJ set), Father Funk + burlesque from Kitty Bang Bang & friends.

Swingamajig 2016 comes the Rainbow Venues in Digbeth on May 1st – running form 2pm until 6am. Tickets are priced at £22/£25/£30. For the full Swingamagig line up, alongside everything else you need to know about the festival – including online tickets, visit


For more on The Toosie Rollers, visit

For more on Rainbow Venues, visit 

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BPREVIEW: Balkan Beat Box @ Swingamajig 2016 – Rainbow Venues 01.05.16

bbb-header-photo - lr, med

Words by Ed King / Pic from Balkan Beat Box

7 days to go…

Amongst the headline acts at Swingamajig 2016 are Balkan Beat Box – the self described ‘intoxicating and intense sonic assault’ of Balkan brass, klezmer, gyspy folk, hip hop, dub, reggae… all the best bits from the world wide web of music we live in.Main with web colour bcg - lr

Fronted by Tomer Yosef, an energetic and intelligent mouth piece (used to be a stand-up comedian), Balkan Beat Box is the brain child of drummer Tamir Muskat and saxophonist Ori Kaplan – both of whom have appeared in the Gogol Bordello gypsy ensemble and ‘world punk’ group Firewater.

Making noise, figuratively and literally, in New York’s underground club scene in the early naughties, Balkan Beat Box started out crossing klezmer and Balkan folk with hip hop beats and punk rock percussion – debuting their first eponymous LP in 2005.

Focused on dragging traditional music into a modern context, the band brought Israeli singer/guitarist Tomer Yosef into the fold after his vocals appeared on the Balkan Beat Box debut LP. Having previously written and recorded with Tamir Muskat, Yosef brought a crowd facing fire to the live shows – quickly earning the trio a ferocious on stage reputation.

swingamajigNow four albums in and present across global gig and festivals circuits, Balkan Beat Box have crissed, crossed, and crisscrossed again a multitude of influence – bringing sounds and genres from all over the world into their set.

Sounds perfect for a Swingamajig festival booking; an adverterous portfolio, with collaboration from artists including ‘the Yemenite dance music group A-Wa’ and ‘the turnt up rock group Loco Hot’.

And without wanting to rely on the rhetoric of others, Time Out summed this up by saying ‘if Balkan Beat Box is world music, it’s in the most literal sense – because it can move anyone in the world.’ Not a bad endorsement.

But don’t take our (or their) word for it, have a stop, look listen to Balkan Beat Box below:

‘I Trusted U’ – Balkan Beat Box

Birmingham get up close and personal with Balkan Beat Box at Swingamajig 2016, as they headline the main stage sometime suitably after dark. Buy don’t worry about the when and where’s, you’ll probably hear their set start wherever you are in the sprawling Rainbow Venues. I believe the term is ‘…going off’.

Other acts appearing at Swingamajig 2016 are The Destroyers, JFB, Electric Swing Circus, The Tootsie Rollers, Jack Rabbit Slim, Swingrowers, Tankus the Henge, The Carny VilliansBarbarella’s Bang Bang + The Rin Tins.

Swingamajig 2016 comes the Rainbow Venues in Digbeth on May 1st – running from 2pm until 6am. Tickets are priced at £22/£25/£30.

For the full Swingamagig line up, alongside everything else you need to know about the festival – including online tickets, visit


For more on Balkan Beat Box, visit

For more on Rainbow Venues, visit

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