Let’s get one thing straight before we start this review proper: if you love music, chances are you will find something here for you. How could you fail to, when the band introduce a beautiful, melodic folk song with the caveat “This one is inspired by seeing AC/DC at Wembley stadium a few weeks back...”? But I’m getting ahead of myself here.
Oka Vanga are a lyric-free, double-guitar, male-female folk duo from London. They have been in existence for about a year and appear to draw influences from all over the world and all across the musical spectrum. Their MySpace page cites Will as drawing particular influence from 80s hair metal (yes, really), and Angie as being a particular of musical styles popular in North Africa. As such, no inch of fret-board is left untouched. I ask you, people, what’s not to love? How can you not find this sort of thing exciting?
Tonight, Oka Vanga are hypnotic. It is difficult to drag ones eyes off the stage, even when you’ve been alloted the job of photographer for the evening. Each song has its own story, including one inspired by a Thai monsoon and another by the aforementioned AC/DC riff-fest. These stories are capable of filling the room and holding the audience in thrall. Each song also has a particular personality that means that even hardened lyric-studiers such as myself are kept focussed throughout the set. The applause at the end of each song is testament to how much those gathered here are impressed by the music they are watching.
It’s undoubtedly one of the most impressive displays of virtuoso guitar skill you’ll find on the folk circuit right now, with the two players complementing each other perfectly in style and influence. The drive of the rhythm guitar is perfectly complimented by the intricate melodies and there never seems to be a moments let up in a brilliantly paced set. If Angus Young had decided that finger-picking rather than power chords should dominate the world, he might well be in this basement telling the crowd that this next song was inspired by seeing Oka Vanga at Wembley a few weeks back...
My advice to any readers of this website is very simple: go forth and check the MySpace page. Go and find a gig. Prove to yourself that I’m right about this. Get. Your. Folk. On.