South London six-piece Mellah steal hearts and minds as they step up to headline Oslo, Hackney.
It’s hard to find an artist who communicates so directly through their lyrics. Hard-hitting truths about social injustice, race and inequality all feature in south London artist Liam Ramsden’s left-field dream-pop project, Mellah.
Grand Pax opened proceedings on the evening, dragging their haunting pop harmonies through the grit of a live band set up to create something quite beautiful. Their track Comet needs no introduction. Next up was A House In The Trees, tonight poised as a trio with swirling electronic textures and hip-hop beats marking the bands now distinctive genre bending sound. The band’s frontman marches from side to side of the stage glaring into the eyes of his fellow musicians, brow to brow with the bassist at one point as the trio find a truly exciting live groove.
From the early sparks of Mellah‘s Liminality EP, released last May on London indie label Lucky Number, to most recent single What It Is, Liam Ramsden’s project has grown significantly, both in sound and perhaps the potential social impact available to the band who recently inked a deal with Columbia Records.
Standing a couple of metres away from the stage in London venue Oslo in Hackney, the sextet have a quietly confident demeanour. It feels as though the room is full of friends or music fans that share the same political frustrations as the frontman and a youth on the whole.
“Left says bigot, right says dreamer, but at the core, neither is either”
The emphasis on night is on the new material, the recently released EP Middle England and stand alone single What It Is come on like old favourites with distant echos of harmonica and layered vocals by up to four members at once. At it’s core Mellah is a nontraditional rock band, their sound encompassing heady moments of dream pop, psych-tinged indie with a left-field electronic leaning.
In the room on the night, Ramsden’s distinct vocal spills over his guitar riffs with the potency of someone who fully believes in the impact of his lyrics, and given the chance would trade the spotlight for real life change. It is this truth that sparks the warmest thought, that this show would turn out much the same if it was hosted in his living room, away from the spotlight, friends sharing lukewarm lager from the same leaking crate in awe of someone willing to stand up for what they feel is right or wrong.
By Karl Johnson