Aleka At Arthur’s – Review
Romanian cellist/singer Aleka makes an appearance tonight in the cozy upstairs room at Arthur’s, an intimate and unique venue most popular for it’s jazz gigs. She brings with her a band featuring some of Dublin’s best young musicians with Chris Guilfoyle on guitar, Kevin Higgins on bass and Brendan Doherty on drums.
Right from the get go the ambient and tender nature of her tunes are present. The arrangements are easily accessible for a newcomer to jazz via catchy refrains and memorable melodies, but also feature a mysteriously complex system of performance. Guilfoyle’s chordal work is most notable in the first few tunes, and seems to be totally at one with his guitar. Aleka lets the band take the lead at times, which only adds to the performance. Some top class interaction between Guilfoyle and Higgins make sure the crowd don’t lose interest for even a moment.
Doherty shines in the midpoint of the set, and really starts to make his presence felt. Always catching rhythms and motivic ideas thrown at him, he is truly a master of the kit. Aleka switches to the cello at this point, which adds an entirely different dynamic to the performance. Setting this up takes a few moments, which she jokingly acknowledges and turns into quite a sweet moment.
Introducing the highlight tune of the evening simply as ‘An old Romanian song’, this number is immense. Whilst being a more than impressive singer, her sufficiency with a cello is breathtaking. Gorgeous melodies intertwine perfectly with the soft touch of the rhythm section as well as the gentle guitar lines. Switching between singing lyrics and playing the instrument, it’s quite possibly the most impressive display of the evening.
Now bringing the set to a close, the final tune only keeps up the momentum. Pure class from all musicians is what’s expected, and they certainly deliver.
While gigs like these don’t quite pull the crowds a more commercial band would, they’re nearly always just a bit more special. These types of intimate and engaging displays are surprisingly easy to come by, though not many know that they’re often in the upstairs room of an unsuspecting pub. Nevertheless, Aleka is flying the flag for the arts, and did more than enough to prove this music is as strong as ever.