Once you have The Canteen People’s love, it seems, you are welcome anytime. Having raised up a dancing storm last time they played there was a palpable anticipation of good times in the room for the return of Albino Tarantino. Lordy, people even danced to the sound check! So it was hardly surprising that the actual gig went very well, too.
Hailing out of Stroud, Albino Tarantino call themselves a ‘Latin Blues band’, with a set largely comprising original songs from frontman Aron Attwood. Normally a 9-piece, for this night they had shed their two brass players, sadly, but had kept a three-man percussion section. This was important – if there’s one thing that defines their sound and lifts it way above the run-of-the-mill boogie merchants it’s the upbeat impact of proper Latin-style percussion.
It’s a sound that reaches back to the early 70s and bands like Steely Dan, Tom Waits, Dr John and (especially) Santana. There were only three covers in their set and two of those were associated with Santana, the first being Evil Ways which slipped naturally into the mix from Aron’s moody/bluesy All That Remains. The rock solid rhythm section gave off a sense of effortlessness, as though they could have coasted along all night delivering this stuff, while Pete Roe’s barrelhouse piano added trills and fills under the vocals.
Needless to say there was much dancing going on, and the set built on that momentum to the end. Bonus marks have to go to whoever decided to slip Bill Withers’ sadly neglected (but much sampled) Kissing My Love into the final rundown. The cheerfully swampy funk of that arrangement perfectly captured the dance floor steam and ran into Dumb, Aron’s slinky cabaret/Son number complete with a plaintive solo from guitarist Robert Holmes.
After that it was inevitable they finished with Oye Como Va, Santana’s greatest hit and a milestone that brought Latin grooves to the mainstream rock world. Naturally they packed it full of farewell flourishes, swirling keyboards, flailing timbales and snapping cowbells. And, equally naturally, it brought the house down. That was a satisfying end to a tightly worked set that had never once dropped the ball, offering a fine and distinctive combination of Afro-Latin rhythms with room for everyone to shine..