The last time I found myself at Shoreditch multi-arts venue Rich Mix was to watch two Team GB Olympic fencers giving a demonstration of their sport (and then taking on any challengers, leading to me having my arse handed to me and dispelling any lingering hope of my being the next Erol Flynn). The entertainment tonight may be more musical in nature, but it’s every bit as sharp and pugnacious.

As I arrive, opening act Mavrika are already in full swing.  If I’d been told beforehand that they’d be serving up a set of traditional Rembetika music sung entirely in Greek, I might have taken a later train, but to my great surprise I find the intensity and the incessant rhythms strangely compulsive.
I’m far from alone, for it’s not long before the dancefloor is packed with handclapping, footstomping revelers.

But Mavrika are simply the meze before this evening’s main course - 15 piece Brummie/Balkan gypsy superfolk behemoth The Destroyers, who tonight live up to their explosive moniker with a set of gargantuan proportions than nearly blows the roof off of the cavernous Rich Mix live room and ignites the crowd in a way that too few bands seem capable of.

Taking influence from pretty much anywhere they fancy, The Destroyers blend strands of traditional folk from across Europe, a bit of polka here, a dash of jazz there, a hearty helping of punk attitude, and mould it into something truly unique and genuinely astonishing.  They kick of with an instrumental blast of brass, fiddle, accordion, guitars and even a bit of hurdy gurdy, before being joined onstage by lead vocalist Paul Murphy, a man with a voice so imbued with dark fervour that were he not fronting this band could easily find work as a voice over artist at the Hammer House of Horror. Murphy proceeds to spin us tales of political and financial corruption, of genetically modified immortal mice and of the need for our splintered society to join together as one, whilst the band create a musical whirlwind around him that raises the intensity and energy yet further.

Within a few songs they have the Shoreditch crowd, not generally known for its tendency to let down its guard, eating out of their hand - clapping and pogoing in time with the band, sitting down on command and even playing dead during ‘Methuselah Mouse’.  It’s rare to see a band connecting so completely with their audience, and every ounce of energy and passion emitted from the stage is given back fourfold by the surging, jigging throng.

An hour long set, comprising of tracks from debut album Out of Babel and new LP Hole In The Universe, being launched at tonight’s show, goes by in the blink of an eye, leaving the crowd baying for more.  The band duly oblige returning for one last blast through the carnival cavalcade of ‘Out of Babel’, before leaving us sweaty, raw throated, exhausted and happy.  

Review & Photography by Paul Maps / /

Live Review
The Destroyers
w/ Mavrika
@ Rich Mix, London