I just have to say, the Bellrays have me really, really confused. How many times have you heard a large, soulful black woman sing for a punk band? I didn’t think so. But oddly enough, or maybe not, maybe I shouldn’t be surprised, but this band really knows how to bring the rock.
Shot entirely at the Camden Barfly in London in April of 2005, this hour-long live set has the band play a wide variety of songs. The Barfly appears to be a rather small club, and the band uses that to their advantage, covering every inch of the stage and really making their big sound echo throughout the entire venue to an approving crowd.
The real centerpiece of the band is singer Lisa Kekaula, however, and she really has a terrific stage presence about her, and more importantly, she’s got an incredibly strong voice with an even more impressive range. She could easily sing for a blues band or in all likelihood, have a solo career. She may not be Patti LaBelle, but the fact is she’s got a wicked voice that’s sure to make a lot of people notice. What’s more impressive yet is how well she blends with the punk rock assault in the background. Kekaula works with a very talented band, and even during the more simplistic parts of the music, they’re entertaining to watch and that maintain jagged rhythms throughout.
Some of the content is slower and more groove driven, and the band is fine in that light as well. “Used to Be” is driven by a slow but stuttering rock‘n’roll rhythm that really allows the vocals to take flight. The more the DVD goes on, the more impressed I actually become that the singer's vocal style sounds so perfect with the band behind her. When the band speeds up, as on “Some Confusion City,” so does she, offering the perfect mix of soul and punk, with drums crashing in the background and the lead guitarist showing what he can do, with a quick but effective solo towards the end. The momentum keeps up for the entire hour-long set, and the eight-minute showtime closes the set in dramatic fashion. Starting out with some terrific rock‘n’roll that would make Chuck Berry smile, the band picks up the pace before mellowing out and leading into some improvisational blues playing.
At the end there’s also a solid interview segment with some members of the band that gives a little backstory into the band's origination, their mixing of various styles and backgrounds, and what they think lies ahead for them.
I was pretty taken aback by how entertaining this DVD was. Plenty of camera angles, crystal clear picture, and a band that truly knows how to put on a show.