When you grow up with the lessons learned on the streets of Oakland then you are a survivor with a story to tell. Having lost close family to the gun violence that is all too often a backdrop to life in USA cities, this aspiring artist turned his energies into making music and created something of real value before a horrific car accident took it all away.
Arriving in Dublin for a debut gig, all these years later, is a million miles away from those dark days and Xavier Dphrepaulezz, stage name Fantastic Negrito, is clearly in a much happier place right now. With a critically acclaimed debut album, The Last Days of Oakland, making quite a stir across the music grapevine, the last thing that we are going to be is disappointed. The energy levels of Fantastic Negrito and his superbly rehearsed band is full-on, loud 'n' proud, in your face and racing you through an experience that will long stay in the memory.
Playing tracks mainly from the album release, Fantastic is, well… quite simply Fantastic...!
Boasting a huge stage presence, he dances and moves around his band, engaging the enthusiastic crowd at every turn and raising the performance levels ever higher. He has a natural way with stories and his likeability factor wins everybody over by the time he has removed his full-length leather coat, a few numbers into this really impressive performance.
This is Black Roots music that fills a particular space in the music consciousness with plenty of Soul and Funky grooves that really hit hard. Add in some wonderful keyboard sounds on top of this driving beat and it is impossible to not jump into the sweet surrender of it all.
The 5-piece band are clearly having a blast and so are the crowd as we are treated to the real essence of live performance. The song titles will not mean anything to those who are discovering this artist for the first time so let me just add the actual set-list which I was fortunate enough to photo after the show, courtesy of a newly anointed fan who was taking it home as a souvenir of a special night.
The next time Fantastic Negrito visits Dublin it will be to a larger venue as his reputation is only going to grow in one direction...
Review and photographs by Paul McGee