((Royal Oak Music Theatre, Royal Oak, MI - June 8th, 2010)
English band One eskimO may not be on everybody's musical radar quite yet, but trust me when I say that day is fast approaching. Indeed, if you have not yet heard their song 'Kandi', a song that was #1 on the adult alternative charts in many cities for many weeks, well, which rock have you been hiding under?
One eskimO is fronted by singer-songwriter Kristian Leontiou and includes musicians Pete Rinaldi on guitar, Jamie Sefton on bass/horns and Adam Falkner on drum/percussion. This is a band whose repertoire is alive with flowing textures and expertly created songs. They have a very unique sound, but their songs are still catchy and easy to listen to - as tonight's crowd can easily attest to.
Taking quietly to the stage, they quickly set about putting the Michael Franti & Spearhead crowd at musical ease. Opening with 'Hometime,' Leontiou's voice is clear, smooth and very well orchestrated for the song. But this song is less to do with those vocals and more to do with Sefton's unique instrument coupling. Playing both the bass guitar AND the horn at the very same time, it's this incredible talent that has everyone around me enthralled.
As we progress through their 10 song set - a set that just featured the quartet, for all intents and purposes, rooted to their chosen stage spots; no quirky animations, no hypnotic visions blaring above nor behind them - more songs from their self-titled debut album are brought forth. 'Givin' Up' and the brilliant, horn-guided, crowd appreciated 'Hurricanes' are next. This is followed by the melody-driven 'Astronauts' - a truly beautiful moment where voice and soulful beat live in perfect harmony - and then 'Simple Day.'
But it's when we get to the radio air play fav, 'Kandi' that the audience suddenly realizes they have heard this bands stuff before! Opening with a hypnotic acoustic guitar line, and complete with some subtle percussion, the song is just perfect for those lazy, hazy days of summer.
Devoid of any real stage banter between songs, Leontiou's vocal tones wrapped perfectly around and within every single note, 'Chocolate' is next up, but it's when we get to the fantastic 'UFO' that suddenly the crowd is all ears; swaying to the beat. With Sefton's horn mixing with the intricate guitar-plucking of the vastly under-rated Pete Rinaldi, the slightly darker, atmospheric song speaks volumes for all us mere mortals: 'If I'm such a Superhero, why does it feel like my feet can't leave the ground?'
And lest we forget the incredible drum work from Falkner. Although, in truth, saying Falkner simply plays the drums is like saying Moby simply plays the keyboards! Sitting on what can only be described as a hobo-assortment of boxes, weird-shaped dangly things, complete with pedals, keys, and a sound modulator, Falkner (head down at all times) is a force unto himself; his controlled energy pulsating at all times stage left.
Bringing the show to a close, Leontiou thanks the audience for being here tonight, hopes they enjoyed the show, and announces the last song, 'Amazing.' And, much like the fact that it is also the final track off their album, the songs conclusive feel brings darkness to the stage once sung.
And so, and without a sniff of an Eskimo to be seen - let alone a monkey, a giraffe, or a guitar playing penguin - the show is finally over ... until next time.
Review and Photos by: Russell A. Trunk