Kongos Impress Orlando

Kongos Orlando Concert Review

When your father preaches “Only thing I can say to you is ‘You gotta be good and you gotta be true,’ and you respond by creating the unique, distinctive brand of rock ‘n roll that the Kongos brothers deliver to their fans, you’ve definitely made your dad proud, while simultaneously impressing rock fans across the world.

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Kongos Live at The Beacham Orlando
Kongos Live at The Beacham Orlando

(Below the story, make sure you check out our show photos from the RARAsFarm Facebook page and the night’s setlist.)

A few years ago, when I first heard the powerful, tribal-infused rock music from this talented foursome, I thought Kongos was a perfectly fitting name for this band with distinctive South African roots. As it turns out, Kongos was actually the last name for these four tremendously talented brothers.

Their father John Kongos had a few hits in the 70s, including “Tokoloshe Man” from which the aforementioned lyrics came from. As we saw last week at the raucous Beacham Theatre in Orlando, his four sons inherited fantastic musical talent and are just dripping with rock star potential.

Their show on this night was electric and fresh and the enthused fans at The Beacham soaked it in. The music is different – different in a deliciously fresh, yet classically comfortable way. The Phoenix-based quartet have South African roots, were raised in a household filled with classical music, and several of the brothers are formally trained jazz musicians. The result? Four immensely talented rockers with a unique and powerful brand of rock music.

They took the stage to tribal music and jumped into a rollicking “Hey I Don’t Know,” featuring drummer Jesse on lead vocals. It was quickly apparent that Kongos are driven by their distinctive rhythm section. Bassist Dylan creatively teamed with Jesse’s polyrhythmic playing throughout the show. It’s a unique approach and on this night it provided a great canvas for the band’s music. Dylan took over lead vocals on the next track, “Sex On The Radio” and the two traded-off lead duties all night, with guitarist Daniel and Keyboardist Johnny providing nice harmonies.

Like both of the excellent opening acts, Sir Sly and Colony House, the band played next door at The Social just last year. On this tour, they headlined the much larger Beacham and if this night was an indication, I expect we’ll see them playing larger venues in the very near future. Their sound is big, heavy and attention-grabbing, and well-suited for arenas.

The foursome clearly feed off of each other and work together… well… like brothers. While their live sound was superb and is already top notch, they still have some maturing to do as a headlining act, but that’s only a matter of time. These guys are destined for great things on the rock music scene.

Daniel dished out staccato guitar riffs that reminded me at times of The Clash, other times of early reggae and still others hard driving rockers. As an example of their multi-instrumentalist abilities, Daniel and Dylan traded off instruments a few times throughout the show. On “Kids These Days,” and a handful of other songs, the band offered a unique rock ‘n roll twist with Johnny playing a captivating accordion.

Highlights from the set included crowd favorite “Take Me Back,” which is a huge drum-powered stadium rocker, and the antithesis, “Traveling On” which Dylan introduced with “One of the advantages of headlining a tour is the ability to play some of our slower songs.” It sounded great, and added nice balance to the well-constructed 90 minute set. “It’s a Good Life,” was a zippy journey with a South African flair, punctuated by killer accordion, that had the crowd engaged throughout, and “I Don’t Mind” featured great keyboards from Johnny.

Kongos Live at The Beacham Orlando
Kongos Live at The Beacham Orlando

Their two biggest hits “Come With Me Now” and “I’m Only Joking” were embraced by the fervid crowd, which probably hit its most frenetic point during “Come With Me Now.” My personal favorite was a Beatles cover. It’s the song they played a dozen years ago when they hit the stage for the first time in a high school talent show. They performed “Eleanor Rigby” as you’ve never heard it before – a special reggae-laced version with a brief rap interlude where one of their stage hands jumped out and offered a cool little rap. Great stuff!

For their encore, they closed with a tribute to their father, a cover version of his aforementioned hit “Tokoloshe Man,” and a smoking (literally) version of “Blue Monday,” which leaned much more towards the hard-driving Orgy take than New Order’s more famous dance version. Check out our photos for a shot of the cool smoke rings they fired over the crowd throughout the song.  Definitely, a powerful, exciting end to a fantastic show.

To see a little glimpse into the show, check out our show photos here.

Rock On!
Cretin

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Setlist
Hey I Don’t Know
Sex on the Radio
Kids These Days
Escape
I Don’t Mind
Take Me Back
It’s a Good Life.
Traveling slow
This Time I Won’t Forget
Come With Me Now
Eleanor Rigby (The Beatles cover)
Take Me Back
It’s a Good Life
I Want to Know
Take It from Me
I’m Only Joking
Encore:
Tokoloshe Man (John Kongos cover)
Blue Monday (New Order cover)

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