By Harry Bedford, Music Editor
Since the late 1970s, as the punk era took hold and music became a political weapon, rock music became very much about realism with musicians focussing on the ups and downs of everyday life. But back in the late 1960s things were slightly different. There was more fantasy in the music, more imagery in the lyrics and the music was generally more colourful. You only have to compare The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix to the likes of The Clash, Oasis and The Arctic Monkeys to recognised this. So when a band like Tankus the Henge come along, it’s certainly worth listening up.
Tankus the Henge is a five-piece band from London who met while working at fairgrounds around the capital. Their sound is a chaotic mix of circus and psychedelia. Blending accordions and distorted guitars with a horn section to produce a kaleidoscope of sonic power that makes them stand out from the crowd. They pride themselves on being ‘the most fantastic band in the world’ and quite frankly it’s difficult to argue with them. Their charismatic and intoxicating sound transports you to a world of nostalgia and fantasy that eclipses the relatively dull music on the radio.
Their musical influences are as widespread as The Beatles, Tom Waits and Dixieland jazz, however they have many more influences outside of the music world, including the literature of the Beat Generation and films of Terry Gilliam. After working their way around country waltzing from gig to festival and round again they headed into the studio to work on their self-titled debut album that was released last year. Since then they have been promoting the album at playing festivals and gigs like tonight at The Borderline.
The Borderline is the quintessential London music venue, located opposite the Tin Pan Alley of Denmark Street (former home to London’s music publishers), it is big enough to pack a good crowd in yet small enough to create a good atmosphere. Support came from the energetic, retro Nick and The Sun Machine and folk-rockers from Bath, The Bare Knuckle Parade, both excellent. By the time Tankus took to stage the place was crammed full of adoring fans.
Frontman Jaz Delorean is like an old-time fairground master demanding the attention of the audience throughout as he bashes on his keyboard and yells into his speakerphone. The rest of the band aren’t far behind, all wearing colourful, eccentric clothing and giving hypnotic performances. ‘Smiling Makes the Day Go Quicker’ was the first singalong of the night with its heartfelt verses and ultra-catchy chorus. Other highlights included the infectious, ‘Cakewalk’, which name checks Mahatma Gandhi, the Dalai Lama and the Jack Kerouac novel, The Dharma Bums; the spooky album opener ‘Who’s Gonna Catcha Ya?’ and the other-worldly, more downbeat number, ‘Lying’.
The band also played some songs from their second album, which they are currently working on. The best moment of the night came with ‘Recurring Dream’. This a beautifully crafted song, that that uses psychedelic imagery over salsa-style rhythms with the refrain, ‘screaming your name as we’re jumping from buildings, I’m loving the feeling of falling with you’. The band provided great entertainment on the night, and I believe anyone could enjoy it. But it’s their eclectic music and original sound that is important and we need to hear more of it on the radio. Jaz Delorean said, ‘there’s nothing like playing to your home crowd’, and a splendid time was guaranteed for all.