Live review from Underground 103:
KA LIKHA look like a new age world music band, with face paint, dreadlocks, hippie clothing, and a range of ethnic instruments. If that sounds like a nightmare to you, I’d urge you to listen to how these guys sound rather than judge them on how they look. With the exception of their opening and closing songs, the world music label is not really a fair description of their overall sound.
In fact they are closer to The Eagles, and late seventies disco, with a bit of jazz and a bit of rock thrown in. For me, the standout performer was the guitarist who brought his distinctive musical personality to each of the songs. A technically proficient player, his skill lies in decorating the music with a rhythmic exploration of the melodic possibilities of each tune. A real asset to the band, his playing is reminiscent largely of The Shadows and also of the aforementioned Eagles. No bad thing in my book.
The singer is very talented also, and has good stage presence. The vocals were delivered perfectly across the whole set with a successful blend of smooth verses and soaring choruses. The one point that didn’t quite work for me personally was actually on the first track where the words “KA LIKHA” are bellowed out with such force that it creates an awkwardness for the listener. Softening this line would make it much easier for the audience to like the band, but if they do feel the need to perform it this way, I’d suggest moving it to later in the set. It might even make a great finale.
The bass player was an absolute rock. No showing off or self-indulgence, just solid, strong, note-perfect bass playing that underpinned the music. The drums too were steady, and consistent, doing what they needed to do, with an understated clarity.
KA LIKHAare confident and ballsy – they stand on stage with no self-doubt, and no ego. They simply play with skill, enthusiasm and joy. They are the sound of a diverse group of musicians blending styles and having great fun. Despite the range of influences that feed into their sound, they present a surprisingly coherent whole, that is delivered with precision and heart.
– Stuart Lennon