Wednesday, 3 February 2016

The Vanjas at Sticky Fingers Gothenburg , Sweden January 30th by Wayne Lundqvist-Ford

The Vanjas by Wayne Lundqvist-Ford
Mention Sweden to anyone these days and the first thing they think of is Ikea, well here is another package from Sweden, but this time there are no screws missing! The Vanjas hail from Stockholm on the east coast of Sweden and consist of singer Vanja Lo, Bass payer Bon Ton, Guitarist Mr Magnatone and drummer Swingin' Zack. They serve up a good, honest dish of Rock 'N' Roll in the form of RnB, not that faux style of RnB that you see a generic version of each Saturday night on TV "talent" shows, this is Maximum RnB! The three guys in the band take the stage sporting matching red suits, Chelsea boots, white shirts and black ties, looking sharp, smart and as if they mean business, which they clearly do. They fire up with an instrumental before being joined on stage by singer Vanja Lo, Vanja is also looking very sharp in a late 50's early 60's style cut dress, she later tells me that she "struggles to look sharp," pointing to a ladder in her tights which had probably occurred when climbing over the stage barriers to dance with a young man whilst singing the band's new single "No Tomorrow Boy." However, her neat styled hair, again in a 50's/60s style, along with her dress, would suggest otherwise, she is positively stylish and sharp. On stage the band put on a show, a real show, not just an audible experience but a fantastic visual experience too. Mr Magnatone and Bon Ton are all over the stage, pointing their guitars at the sky and towards the audience in a well co-ordinated, synchronised unison, using as much of the stage as they can, which on the small stage at Sticky Fingers is no mean feat. In fact, Mr Magnatone also leaves the stage and plays guitar in amongst the audience who are all wearing broad smiles on their faces, one guy looks across at me and nods and smiles in acknowledgement that we are both witnessing something special. 

The Vanjas by Wayne Lundqvist-Ford
Throughout all of this at the back of the stage Swingin' Zack is providing a tight beat, pounding the skins. Vanja is of course keeping command over the audience with an attitude and style that is not frequently seen, when she tells the audience to listen, they listen! The band play most of the songs from their album "The Vanjas Sings and Plays Rock 'N' Roll" with songs like "Friday Twist" making even the reserved crowd at the back of the venue start shuffling around, they are also smiling like Cheshire cats and edging more into the crowd with each song, this band could win over even the toughest of audiences and get them moving, why would you not want to join this party? Talking to the band after the show, I asked about musical influences and there is no surprise when the Blues, Rock 'N' Roll, Soul and Punk are mentioned, The Vanjas encapsulate all of those styles and fire them at you at a million miles per hour. When I ask about their style, and they are as I said, very stylish, they tell me how they were chatting in the car on the 5 hour drive from Stockholm to Gothenburg and they had agreed that with the outfits and the stage names they were like a cartoon, which immediately made me think of the Ramones, a band whose name came up in later conversation. 

The Vanjas by Wayne Lundqvist-Ford
It is fair to say that the qualities between the two bands are very similar, whilst the visual styling of the bands are different, the result is the same, fucking amazing! I bid my farewells to the band who are still bright eyed and looking sharp, with the exception of the ladder in Vanja's tights, which isn't really bothering her. I exit the venue into the rainy night/morning, sheltering my newly acquired slice of of vinyl inside my jacket, my beaming grin still firmly fixed in place on my face and head home safe the knowledge that everything I could have wanted from seeing a band live had been checked off and also exceeded. In short, go and see this band, book this band, this isn't the next new thing, this is good old fashioned Rock 'N' Roll, an institution of what is great about music and we should embrace it because The Vanjas aren't going to let us forget it and amen to that.

With many thanks to Wayne Lundqvist-Ford for the review and photos. Wayne also does the excellent Ice Cream Man Radio Show on Radio Andra and you can check out the archive of past episodes at his Podomatic web-site here. You can check out our Retrosonic Podcast Episode from a couple of years ago when I spoke to Wayne in Sweden and we played his pick of some of the best International Power Pop bands that had been submitted to his Ice Cream Man Radio Show.

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