Wednesday 24 May 2023

Gaye Su Akyol at Songlines Encounters Festival, Kings Place London May 20th 2023

It was a thrill to finally get to see Istanbul based singer Gaye Su Akyol play live as part of the Songlines World Music magazine's Encounters festival at the new Arts Centre venue Kings Place in London's rejuvenated Kings Cross area. I'm pleased to report that the show exceeded all of our eager expectations with Gaye's eclectic mix of traditional Turkish Folk, Anatolian Psychedelia, Surf, Grunge and Electronica translating perfectly from the impressive body of recorded work onto the stage. Gaye appears, looking fabulous and strikes up an immediate rapport with the adoring crowd, she's a compelling and charismatic performer with a quite superb voice and, as she goes on to prove, a pretty damn good drummer too. That's because tonight it's a three-piece line-up minus the usual rhythm section so they had to work on the arrangements of the songs for the show and Gaye adds drums and percussion to the mix. 


They launch into "Anadolu Ejderi", the rousing title track of her superb new album. Ali Güçlü Şimşek's intricate guitar runs and Surf Rock motifs are quite remarkable, melding Middle Eastern, Arabic and Flamenco sounds into his own distinctive style and we are really looking forward to seeing his more harder-edged project Lalalar play at the Jazz Cafe later this year. The third member, Gorkem Karabudak was also really impressive, and was kept very busy with backing vocals, guitar, synths and keyboards. My personal highlights were "Laziko" which sees Dick Dale and Link Wray relocating to the Bosphorus. "İstikrarlı Hayal Hakikattir" is marvellous and "Sen Benim Mağaramsın" reminded me of Goldfrapp's stomping Glam Rock tinged period. "Martılar Öpüşür, Kediler Sevişir" was also superb with its crunching Pixies style Punky guitar that reminds you that Gaye is also a big fan of Nirvana and Grunge, something not necessarily apparent from most of her recorded works. 


We are treated to a selection of tracks from all four of her albums, ending the main set with the stand alone single "Isyan Manifestosu". These are protest songs of the best kind, demanding social justice, tolerance and hope and the whole package is truly inspirational. The band returned for an encore and reprised the opening track "Anadolu Ejderi" with the hugely talented dancer Must Kika joining in and the show ended in a blur of colour and rapturous applause. I sincerely hope she will return to the U.K. again very soon. For more information on Gaye Su Akyol please check out her official web-site here. You can see more videos from the show by subscribing to our Retromanblog65 YouTube channel here. Ali Güçlü Şimşek Lalalar will play at the Jazz Cafe on September 9th, for more information please check here

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