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Culture Reviews
Big Boss Man (UK)
By Melissa B. Smith
After a lonely, loveless week dodging bureaucrats and traversing vast grey expanses, it was high time for some glam. But where were the seedy dives, miscreant musicians and garage rock weekends of home? New to Moscow and far from familiar fun, were we doomed to waste Friday night watching "OOO, Biologia" videos in the dormitory?

No way! Not with the "Big Boss Man" back in town. "Big Boss Man" formed in late '98 and was almost immediately snatched up by "Blow Up" records. The hip UK band has since frequently toured Europe, delighting audiences with sweet sixties nostalgia, rhythm 'n' blues fusion, and funky bongo interspersions.

On only their second visit to Moscow, "Big Boss Man" filled Cafe 'Keks' with a mod crowd. The cafe itself is reminiscent of times gone by. Black and white photographs cover an entire wall, huge orange cloth lanterns hover over sideline seats and cosy armchairs lounge about beneath the staircase leading to a loft full of dining tables and chatting patrons. Loft tables must be reserved a day or two in advance. (Tel.246 0864)

Cafe 'Keks' seemed a respectable enough place to bring a date during the week or early on a weekend night. It was nicely decorated and the staff efficient and polite. The menu we looked at was in Russian, the first page offering a selection of sushi. The appetizers and main courses were not too expensive, and the alcohol priced reasonably. The only down sides to the cafe were that bright lights detracted from our good looks and music enjoyment potential, and we could hardly taste the liquor in our drinks.

Although it might have been nice to survey the evening’s proceedings perched above the dance floor, we were lucky to nab very comfortable seats beside the staircase. We enjoyed a couple of bottles of Guinness at ninety roubles each while the servers saw to it that never a drop of ash reached the ashtray. In the way of social commentary, a gentleman next to us remarked that Cafe 'Keks' is usually frequented by business minded, middle class clientele. He thought that there were an awful lot of foreigners in the crowd, which perhaps explains the noticeable lack of pointy-toed shoes.

Back to the "Big Boss Man"… eleven o'clock marked slight light-dimming, anticipatory inhalations and BAM! a wicked organ intro. The drum set soon kicked in, followed by an hallow bass-line and to continue the escalation - rhythmic guitar. We immediately liked the sounds, so decided to wade through a pond of say, forty wiggling bodies and check out the sights.

On stage, Nasser Bouzida rocked the Hammond with deep burgundy cords and a green, paisley polyester top while Mr Harding graced us in guitar and dark navy pinstripes. Bassist Mr Milson wore a spiked platinum coiffure and drummer Nick Nichols sported a supremely sexy pixie. "They look like London boys," my lovely friend gleamed. Yes, the four Big Boss Men were stylin'.

In sum, keep an eye on Cafe 'Keks' as they're sure to bring more cool music to Moscow. And definitely check out www.big-boss-man.com for future tour dates or to order some vinyl. I know I will. In fact, once I get back home, I'm gonna place those pretty records on the record machine, dim the lights, recline on my purple velvet divan, and bring a boy over for absinthe.

05.10.04
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