Reviewed on Friday May 3

After more than a decade of sold-out shows and electrifying festival appearances, Melbourne Ska Orchestra brought the jims, the jams and the swing when the 30-piece band hit the stage on Friday night. Imagine the force of more than a dozen horn players, a mean rhythm section, percussionist, two organists and three singers and you may begin to understand the wonderful, uncontrollable mayhem of the skankin’ powerhouse that is Melbourne Ska Orchestra.

Walking into the theatre, a few of us had no idea what we were about to witness: an explosive celebration of music unfolding right before our eyes, as the Metro ignited with opener ‘Katoomba’. Fronted by Nicky Bomba (Bomba, Bustamento, John Butler Trio), with his professional, fun and impulsive conducting style, they pumped out hit after hit, including their first ever single ‘Lygon Street Meltdown’ and ‘When Dean Went to Mexico’.

With darkness and alcohol to cure any inhibitions, there was more than enough bad dancing in the crowd. Their cover of The Specials’ ‘A Message To Rudy’ and ‘Night Boat To Cairo’ had the floor ablaze as Bomba tore around the stage in style backed by his solid band, some of Australia’s preeminent names in ska and reggae.

The crowd put in as much as the band on stage, with Bomba initiating crowd chant-offs and hand swaying, getting everyone to bend down to the theatre floor in unison; the crowd couldn’t have been having more fun.

Finishing their two-hour set with ‘Monkey Man’, that raw feel-it-in-your-bones energy was definitely present; it’ll be hard to top off the fun we had in these short lived two hours. After this show it’s easy to see how the combination of their on-stage energy and the support from their rapidly swelling fan-base has them soaring in popularity. Melbourne Ska Orchestra are fast becoming a fixture of Australia’s musical landscape.


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