LIVE REVIEW: TEKE::TEKE, Scott Free, The Smokin’ Coconuts @ Head of Steam, Newcastle (06.05.22) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: TEKE::TEKE by Andy Jon

A special evening was in store as the wondrous TEKE::TEKE brought their luscious blend of Japanese psych and surf rock to Newcastle.

Opening the bill was Scott Free and without his backing band, he unveiled some masterful, stripped-back psych folk. Cracking 70s psychedelia-inspired acoustic from a blossoming young talent. Spilling out onto the dance floor and supplying the middle slot for the evening were The Smokin’ Coconuts, with a dose of funkified, bass-heavy dad-rock.

What was to come next was like nothing seen before… 

Breathtaking. Jaw-dropping. Astounding. All the adjectives. The Montreal-based septet TEKE::TEKE ascended their modern masterpiece Shirushi, with the sounds so vivid you could almost see colours daubed on the wall. Opener Kala Kala is steered by Yuki Isami’s nimble shinobue (traditional Japanese bamboo flute) and the emphatic brass of Etienne Lebel’s trombone, before detonating into a sumptuous psych extravaganza. Yoru Ni is a pure surf rocker reminiscent of times long gone, complete with twanging guitar which has been perfected by Serge Nakauchi Pelletier.

Indeed, TEKE::TEKE originally formed as a tribute to Japanese surf and garage pioneer Takeshi Terauchi – their sets are still speckled with his covers, except now they’re catapulted with punked-up rhythm. This kaleidoscopic mosaic of sounds old and new, seamlessly fuses 60s psychedelia, Japanese folk and eleki, and contemporary offbeat punk together. All seven members can interpret each other’s musical language with absolute proficiency and it’s barely believable that they’re still a relatively new band.

The back end of the performance included a beautiful rendition of Omae No Karada, the wonderfully delirious Barbara, before closing with pile driving stomper Meikyu. Vocalist Maya Kuroki sings entirely in Japanese and has an emotive voice like no other; delicate yet intense and barring instrumentals they’re a constant focal point, as she carries an enormous stage presence. This was a life-affirming spectacle that was deservedly met with a roaring ovation, like never seen before in that tiny room. TEKE::TEKE are firm believers in creating genuinely unique music and that is something to be forever cherished.

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