Live: All Smiles & Sun Araw. Sun Araw & M. Geddes Gengras meet The Congos, Village Underground.

Walking into the Village Underground, the first thing I noticed was the mix of Sun Araw fans, Congos fans and plain music lovers. They all combined to make for an endearing and joyous atmosphere, soaked into everyone’s nodding heads and stomping feet as we happily awaited the musical coalition to take to the stage.

The set starts with Sun Araw, M. Geddes Gengras and the rest of the band taking place; their backup consisting of a drum kit, two guitars, bass, various synths, conga drums, shakers and a saxophone. This prepared the perfect set up for the sun-drenched vibes The Congos were about to unleash.

A mysterious man with dreads introduced The "mighty" Congos as they emerged in smiles and all but one in matching khakis. Holding their hands in the air they slowly danced towards the four mics placed at the front of the stage. Immediately the mood was set: just from their facial expressions and mannerisms, it was clearly time to let loose and enjoy the once in a lifetime experience about to play out to an eager audience.

They start the set with Invocation, the collaborative album’s most uniting song, repeating the line "get together" in what seems a fitting statement for the varied crowd as it fills the room with a communal happiness. After another cut from the new album, they surprisingly break into Congos classic Ark of The Covenant as it soon became evident that the set was to consist half of vintage Congos songs, integrated with tracks from the new album; a perfect balance for fans both new and old.

Sun Araw looked quite awkward  – or perhaps just bashful – for most of the show, letting The Congos take the limelight as he diligently played his guitar and synth parts. On many occasions he would look up smiling as he glanced around the stage, perhaps in disbelief that he was up there onstage with his heroes.

The Congos, meanwhile, were clearly completely ecstatic to be on stage and to be together. Their differing personalities and vocal mix of tenor, falsetto and baritone made each of them superbly complement the others and this accented the key theme of this concert: unity. "Music has no colour; no race; no class", they preach.

As they sang in complete harmony, they held each other shoulder-to-shoulder and busted out some ridiculous dance moves, compelling the whole audience to do the same. Hits such as Congoman Chant and Fisherman sent everyone into a dance craze as it was all too easy to get hypnotised by the rhythms, eyes closed and arms aloft.

Suddenly it was announced that the band were going to take a break, only to return a mere 2 minutes later due to "not wanting to break the vibes". It then became very clear as to why this collaboration works so well as the exertion of Sun Araw’s psychedelic noise mixed so effectively with the traditional reggae music of The Congos, both styles complementing each other in a beautifully hip-grooving way.

Despite the sounds intertwining as such, it seemed that there was a slight divide between The Congos and the band. Interaction between the two was sparse, and as The Congos continuously thanked "Sun Ra" with no mention of M. Geddes Gengras, it made me wonder how much time they'd spent together and how the songs had been written. This vacant dynamic however did not subtract from the overall feel of the music.

Thus the night highlights how beautiful and exciting collaboration can be; the splendour of unifying different genres and art forms: of not necessarily mashing up but instead rather delicately grouping together to create a conjoined sound that was truly inspiring. I had a smile the whole gig and looking around seeing the crowd’s joyous expressions and outrageous dancing made me realise how special a performance I was watching. There were no judging eyes; no bad vibes: just a love for music and that’s essentially what The Congos have been brewing for decades now.

Kamal Rasool.