Concorde 2, Brighton 23.8.18

I last saw Ozomatli somewhere in the Jazz Field at Glastonbury in the late 90s. It was cold and wet (probably) but I remember them vividly. The sextet’s perfect blend of latin/ hiphop/ Cuban rhythm is, once seen, never forgotten. A band that also featured in the chick flick, ‘Never Been Kissed’, I think that Drew Barrymore beat one of their bongos. Still, I digress. I can hardly believe that this is their 20th anniversary tour. Beginning with percussionist/ dancer/ rapper, Justin Poree, taking centre stage, the anticipation for Chali 2Na (of Jurassic 5 fame and previous collaborator) is tangible. While Justin does a great job warming up the audience, it isn’t until the distinctive baritone of Mr 2Na rumbles through the venue that they really start to party like it’s 1999. And oh, is he cool. Absolutely captivating, even when he is dancing away in the background and not really doing much more than beating a cow bell occasionally, he brings the show to life.

That said, Ozomatli are far from being 2Na’s backing band. The six members of Ozomatli bring the energy, the passion, the tight musicianship that only bands that have been performing together so long could have. Asdrubal Sierra, the short stocky frontman of sorts, has some pipes on him as he alternates from singing to trumpet throughout their set. Complimented by Ulises Bella on saxophone, melodion and various other instruments, each player has a part, pogoing at one point in synchrony, to prove the band is 20 years older but they are far from over the hill. Classic hip hop such as ‘Saturday Night’ flows perfectly into the latin/reggae fusion of ‘Cumbia De Los Muertos’ and the more traditional ‘Chango’, leaving not one person in the venue stationary at any stage in the evening. A little bit of old school perfection that still sounds as fresh as a daisy.

Thank you to Ozomatli for letting myself and the plus one in. It was fabulous.


Anna C