As the sun sets over the idyllic Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Electric Swing Circus take to the Victorian bandstand as a large crowd gathers on the main lawn.
With no hint of the rigors of their recent touring, they leap into their two hour set with zeal. Through synths, Rashad Gregory conjures forth the brass and string ghosts of the roaring ‘20s swing era for his bandmates to flesh out with dub, gypsy jazz, ska, electro and whatever else they see fit.
Foot-tapping quickly becomes full-blown jiving as pockets of the audience erupt into dance, the band setting the tone with some moves of their own. Professional musicians to the last, ESC punctuate the set with heavier dub numbers such as I’m OK while maintaining their high-octane start.
Frontwomen Laura Louise and Bridget Walsh between them seem to have mastered the entire sound spectrum; guitarist Tom Hyland finds Django in his strings; and bassist Patrick Wreford and (as Tom describes him) the “ninja drumming octopus”Chandra Walker champion the rhythms.
Shifting through the gears, ESC throw in the ska-laden new offering That Skat, before closing with their new anthem Valentine. “This only works if you all go bananas,”exclaims Tom and the audience obliges; how could they not? Electric Swing Circus are simply irresistible.
Words: Will Pace
Photos: Sam Wood