|Venue:||London Battersea Secret Garden|
Ten minutes before Chavo start I am sat in the Secret Garden tapping my foot to the infectious Balkan beats piping through the PA. My friend Dave, an hour late, texts me to tell me he’s in Crystal Palace at a garden centre also called the Secret Garden.
The collective foot of the Secret Garden is now involuntarily skiffling to the diabolical Danubian fiddles and the wry clarinet of Benny Goodman. Even the killjoys in suits saying it’s not really their thing, by the time the band are about it, are seduced by the Chavo’s satanic saturnalia.
The Israeli, Algerian, Welsh and South African musicians whose talents include the trombone and accordion were brought together in south London by their love of Romani gypsy from the Danube Delta.
They cover Romani dances like the Bulgarian Galkino popularised by the Gogol Bordello which torture their dancers with blisteringly fast saperas in syzygy with excruciatingly tempered build-ups, the effect of which is to hook the inebriate’s viscera like a worm.
Chavo’s own tunes playfully lampoon the genre, like The Ballad of Boundary Lane, a faux Faustian yarn about a south London bus journey curtailed by a yob with a mobile phone lacking in music taste, who mantras “Learn to Love it, why don’t you learn to love it, this is a beautiful thing”.
They’ve been peripatetically recording all over London and come the summer their efforts will give birth to a beautiful baby album. The new record is going to be more original songs that are more rock, more funk and more gypsy.
The audience should have exhausted themselves twirling and jiving but still beg for more even after the second encore. I get a text from my other friend saying: at the risk of sounding foolish, did you know there’s a garden centre in Crystal Palace called the Secret Garden? I’m stood outside it...” Like Chavo, the venue is a well-kept secret, obviously!
Posted: Wed 9 May 2012