By Martin Watson
Making my way into a virtually empty room at the back of the Philharmonic hall – The Music room which holds 250 people felt surprisingly stark given it was twenty minutes before the gig. Suddenly, the room filled, giving it a real close up feel. Literally, ten minutes later there felt to be more than 250 people, a wide aged group, all vying for prime position.
Then on they came, a gang of ten in a mishmash of costumes including: Santa, an extra from night boat to Cairo by Madness; a few wise men and an Elf, amongst other characters. Quirky! This is what I’d been led to expect, a band not afraid to be themselves and have fun whilst giving top notch entertainment!
Then came the unmistakable sound of Ska, that upbeat reverberating sound of Reggae as the band went straight into Cold Winter Time which was followed, with no pause for breath, by Bowie’s Starman aptly renamed Skaman. All tracks had a Ska pun with adapted titles to fit the band’s genre.
The crowd were dancing from the get-go and didn’t falter from start to finish as song after song was performed in true Ska style!
Gary Numan’s Cars changed to, yes you guessed it…’Skas’. The Beach Boys Help Me Rhonda adapted to Help me Santa. Steve Miller’s band Abracadabra was ‘Abra Ska Dabra’.
The songs were introduced and performed brilliantly and enthusiastically by many of the band’s talented performers including frontmen, Kuntri Ranks and Frank the Skank as well as the man who brought the band together, keyboardist John Ellis.
Mr Harmonica and Robin Sunflower also gave fantastic performances equalled by a really tight, cool and amazing sounding rhythm section.
The crowd were pumped and buzzing by the break and after speaking to a few in the interval it was clear that Baked A la Ska have built quite a following and as well as many new fans, myself included. Many loyal fans had travelled over from Manchester, the band’s home.
The final set didn’t disappoint and was finished by a Christmas medley starting with Wham’s Last Christmas. For the final encore that had the crowd singing, smiling, dancing and definitely feeling that it was beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
Cold Winter Time, Skaman (Starman), Skas (Cars).Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, Jingle Dread, Harmonica For Christmas, Help Me Santa (Help me Rhonda), Follow That Ska (Star), Just Different, Zat You Santa? Walking In The Air, In The Bleak Midwinter, Klezmas.
Living On The Ceiling, The Model, Final Countdown.
Winter wonderland, Ghostbusters. We Three Kings. Intergalactic.
Abracadabra (Abra Ska Dabra).Christmas Medley.