LIVE: Sasha & The Shades, The Dublin Castle, 14/01/2020

Sasha & The Shades are the fast-moving sextet, hailing from Peckham, South London. They bring a fusion of sounds from country, folk, blues and rock ‘n’ roll, with vocals that deliver inflections of blues, soul, country and infusions of jazz.

Tonight they deliver a set that is sizzling, atmospheric and full. The room fills out and gradually the audience start moving, with pockets of dancers breaking out into a groove.  A vibe that is buoyant and celebratory, yet mellow, restful and accepting all at once, as the band tackle issues like depression and identity, they explore personal experiences and relationships, while navigating life’s pathways.

Sasha and The Shades have created something quite eclectic, as they step beyond the boundaries and confinement of one genre. You get the feeling they set themselves free with the music, while everything they create is performed with skilled craftmanship. You are reminded of artists from The Allman Brothers with their uplifting authenticity, combined with a rock’n’roll abandon and a touch of the joyous virtuosity of Twin Peaks

You feel like you are drifted in time to a rockabilly era, where a treasure trove of juke-box treats fill the night, more of the 1950s Rock-Ola variety than a Wurlitzer – nothing too plastic or faux for them, this is the sound of real life.  While full and atmospheric sounds fill the room, eclectic and ignited, sizzling through the set. The feeling is humbling and sincere, as the they whisk you away.

This fusion of sounds is fascinating, as each performer brings something different. Arthur Palmer on keys and accordion delivers the folk elements, Tom Julian Jones, dressed in full Elvis regalia, brings the blues, with a hefty dose of harmonica, complimented by the blues vocals of Sasha Adam.  Eli Rose delivers vocals with a soulful country element and hints-of-jazz. All of this held together by Jim Dawkins on bass and Paul Winter-Heart on drums to create this explosive, yet mellow melting pot of sounds, from bluegrass to the psychedelic.  

Vocalists Eli Rose and Sasha Adamczewski have as much a role to play in plucking from different genres. You can’t help but notice the vocals stretch and ping, while the feeling is carried in each and every word, acting as a vessel to convey every vowel and dynamic of a story. A kind of searching, as you notice they use their voices as instruments as much as the rest of the band. Eli Rose’s soulful style and Sasha’s growling Tom Waits style voice, are both emotive and expressively astute, as you hear the momentum change from one lyric to the next almost in an instant. You get the feeling they are immersed in the moment of each song to deliver meaning. ‘Smoke Hallows,’ lovely disjointed and winding, searches for freedom. ‘Echoes’ coasts along, while showcases Eli’s soulful vocals, while making sense of the internal monologue in our heads. ‘Paint The Sky’ is a moving, yet uplifting track, exploring ways to find courage and deal with the downs in life, while ‘Down Below’ brings a bluegrass, rockabilly feel.

It is incredible to see a bunch of such diverse personalities come together and create something so harmonious to deliver their experiences of life and find music is the perfect vehicle for their ideas and philosophy. They all bring something different and fuse together perfectly, while supporting and adding to each others performance. As sounds coast along, the performance fizzles and ignites. They seem to have brought out a wonderous and crazy dancing in the crowd tonight, with an equally eclectic and individualistic audience. Almost a mirror image of the band, slightly cranky, smooth and sleazy all at once. The perfect performance for a perfect groove.

Sam Chamberlaine

Sam Chamberlaine