Music

REVIEW – TiK: Marrying the strange bedfellows of pop and (Ukrainian) history

Rating:

21/05/2016

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Viktor Broniuk – image by Depo Olukotun

The spirited Tik concert at London’s Scala Kings Cross crowned the unofficial Ukrainian week of music. Still high from winning the Eurovision song contest, the mainly Ukrainian crowd were jubilantly clapping and jumping around – their take on dancing – to the brass of the ensemble and vocal displays of Tik’s frontman Viktor Broniuk, an unlikely looking pop idol (though looks can be deceptive). A sense of nationalism and of the country’s place in history permeated the atmosphere – accompanying the energetic dancing was an even more frenetic waving of national flags.

For anyone who believes that history and pop music make strange bedfellows, Ukraine’s Eurovision triumph on Saturday night and TIK’s concert on Sunday – the band’s name is an acronym of Тверезість і культура (Sobriety and Culture) – surely gave the lie to their scepticism. Watching it, you couldn’t help asking what these people and their culture did best: the music, the patrotism, or the history? Perhaps the answer depends on where you’re standing:  and  tonight it was in the middle of a proudly jubilant crowd, basking in the warmth of an unthreatening national devotion and marvelling at a weekend that had mated history with pop music. As if to drive the point home, TIK debuted a song on the night, neatly entitled History. With an extended rousing brass-solo the composition sounded like a call-to-arms: summing up not just the night but the theme of the whole weekend.

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Image by Depo Olukotun

TIK’s music was made to keep you moving. Most of the tunes came with a heavy dose of jerking, rocking or physical passion – and a teeming array of genres. With tracks spiced with latin rock, gypsy rock, gypsy jigs, ska or even punk rock it seemed there was an encrypted command to keep moving, an order which the jerky crowd happily obeyed. Even when the ballad So far from Winter came on, couples paired up and kept dancing, less exuberantly but with no less passion.

TIK frontman Viktor Broniuk is – yes – a history graduate, and with his vocals, accordion playing, and energetic dancing, makes a rather unorthodox pop idol. Broniuk was supported by a duo on trumpet and trombone (Sergei Shamrai), who with the unabashed blasts of their instruments and elaborate synchronised dancing, gave a fresh and physical meaning to the phrase “bold as brass”. Not to be outdone was Viktoriya Gazinaback, the key backing vocalist, whose slight figure belied an energy that revealed itself in her dancing and jumping-jacks, making her more than a match for her male bandmates. Both the ensemble and fans – with their vigorous movements – were in sync.

Only the persistent air of patriotism, which rounded off the set, matched the unrelenting physicality of the evening. With an encore tune entitled (To) Love Ukraine, followed immediately with the Ukrainian national anthem, a guest would be left in no doubt about the affection of Tik and its fans for their nation. The atmosphere of the night was infectious, the crowd invitingly passionate and Tik’s music – at times distinctly 21st century – resonated: even to an outsider.

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More about TiK – their history and upcoming dates – can be found on the band’s website, accessible by clicking on the image below.
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