Live Review: Tijuana Cartel Northcote Social Club

4 June 2012 | 7:57 pm | Kate Kingsmill

Paul George is a totally engaging frontman. He’s got it all: charisma, a great voice and insane flamenco guitar skills, and he clearly totally enjoys performing.

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The messy sonic onslaught of Pigeon is a Sunday night slap in the face. There's no excuse for the horrible vocoder action, the terrible lyrics, for generally being what Rat Vs Possum would be if they were shit. But most of all there is no excuse for the Phil Collins cover. Just Another Day In Paradise feels like hell, and the devil himself appears when they chuck in the Baker Street sax breakdown. I am very, very happy when Tijuana Cartel step on stage.

Paul George is a totally engaging frontman. He's got it all: charisma, a great voice and insane flamenco guitar skills, and he clearly totally enjoys performing. He is also not a difficult man to look at, something that can also be said for the rest of the band. The bulk of the show consists of songs from their most recent album, M1, which saw the band move away from flamenco guitar-based world music sounds to a more electro beat-driven sound.

When the curtains open it takes a while for the five Gold Coast men to tumble onto the stage but when they do, they kick things off with a hectic instrumental.

They are all amazing musicians and are clearly all thoroughly enjoying themselves. They play the hypnotic Rise Up, then the butt-shaking Letting It Go, which George dedicates to everyone who has to work tomorrow as he kicks off his shoes to prowl the stage barefoot. They chuck in a couple of brand new numbers, including the one George declares his current favourite, which is full of flamenco guitar and fat, squelchy grooves - just what Tijuana Cartel is best at.

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It's pretty hard to get a Northcote crowd jumping on a Sunday night but Tijuana Cartel does it easily, through the power of contagious passion. At one stage George plays his guitar flat on the floor, kicking over his beer in his enthusiasm. There's a big dancing contingent down front of stage that goes crazy when they play White Dove.

For the encore, Carey O'Sullivan, the man in charge of the beats, comes out from behind his equipment to play a flamenco guitar instrumental with George. Watching the two men play with such skill is mesmerising. The band finishes off with an epic instrumental freakout, with Blue King Brown's percussionist Salvador Persico and a couple of members of Pigeon added to the mix. It's a crazed and sweaty finish to an excellent gig.