Promoting their third album Egomaniac, released in June, Kongos performed at The Ruby Lounge, a venue which seemed an unusually modest choice for a multi-platinum selling band whose 2012 single Come With Me Now has gained wide-spread fame, and has been used as the theme for a variety of television advertisements, film trailers and sporting events.
Kongos were supported by Good Foxy and Jordan Allen who each offered distinctly different sounds that together combined effectively as a taste of the upcoming show, while the venue was bustling with excitement long before they arrived on stage. The proceedings opened in almost complete darkness, an effect which encouraged the crowd who had already begun screaming and shouting their support, while those desperate for prime viewing locations were not separated in enthusiasm despite a wide range of ages, with many jostling and attempting to move ever closer to the stage.
The band launched into a powerful and captivating spectacle immediately, choosing the crowd-pleasing song Repeat After Me from Egomaniac to open with a rhythm heavy chorus that promoted the stamping of feet that could be heard throughout. Met by rapturous applause following its end, Kongos smiled and waved, appearing as exhilarated as those watching. Selecting a more pop orientated Underground and Hey I Don’t Know as their second and third songs, Kongos gave ideal opportunities for the crowd to join in singing, resulting in most of the audience dancing and jumping while band member Jesse stoked the sparks into a fire with shouts of ‘Manchester how are you feeling?!’
This energy and enthusiasm supplied by the band continued to be in no short supply throughout, with songs such as Where I Belong and The World Would Run Better demonstrating their impressive range of musical talents perfectly. This was evident in the performance provided by Johnny, who while playing his trademark accordion gave off a strong rock presence that one would usually not associate with such an instrument, but its distinct sound lends further individuality to an already refreshingly different four piece. The use of songs written by all four brothers also added a strong dynamic to the show, with each player contributing and commanding the audience’s attention at alternating intervals.
Later on they paid a thoughtful tribute to their father John Kongos with a cover of his song Tokoloshe Man, demonstrating their dedication to him as both a musical influence and father, and summarising the best qualities of Kongos with their ability to create modern and innovative songs through using a variety of genres and inspiration from other personal muses.
While their signature song Come With Me Now elicited the loudest screams of approval and a tangible connection between both audience and band in terms of performing the track with the energy it deserves, the sense of adrenaline and enjoyment on both sides continued for the remainder of the show which appeared to end with firm favourite I’m Only Joking.
The call for an encore featured the track Escape from their 2012 album Lunatic and showed the equal appeal of Kongos earlier work and their most recent endeavours, while encapsulating the general atmosphere of the event as an intense and passionate display shown through both the vibrant performances of the brothers and the reception of the crowd. With a mixture of musical styles, material and a strong sense of pride in performance, Kongos gave a continuously good show throughout, and showed the possibility of securing as much success in the UK as at home.