Gig review: Sinkane at Headrow House, Leeds

Sinkane. Picture: Jo Bongard
Sinkane. Picture: Jo Bongard
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There’s a need for positivity and unity in these troubled political times and Sinkane are the perfect band for the job.

Ahmed Gallab, who trades under the outfit’s name with an ever evolving jam band, has seen his star rise since playing to about ten people the last time he was in town. Now attracting a sell-out crowd, he can compare the gig to a party with his best friends and his new best friends without it sounding like a cliché.

This is due to the euphoric atmosphere he generates as he plays in support of sixth album Life & Livin’ It. Big on self-help positivity - recent single ‘U’Huh’ is based around the simple message “we’re all gonna be alright” – he lacks all trace of cynicism as he powers through 90-minutes of music that’s indebted to 70s funk.

The six-piece band nonetheless sound utterly now in the way the tracks fuse Afrobeat (‘New Name’, on which Elenna Canlas’ keyboard compensates for the absence of live brass), dub reggae (‘Won’t Follow’), and space rock (hear Jonny Lam’s fluid guitar on ‘Runnin’’).

Gallab’s vocals, meanwhile, add a powerful soul element to ‘Telephone’ as his sweet falsetto pitches somewhere between Smokey Robinson’s and Pharrell Williams’. This is contrasted with the more earthy soul of Amanda Khiri, who must surely be waiting for a call up card from Jools Holland.

These are tracks that are so instantly familiar that they should be a massive hit on this year’s festival circuit and, a decade after his debut, catapult Gallab into the mainstream success that he deserves.

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