It’s a fact: London-based MOLOTOV JUKEBOX are one of the best live bands in the UK. Led by singer-songwriter-accordionist and actress NATALIA TENA (Nymphadora Tonks in the Harry Potter film series, Osha in Game of Thrones), this six-piece bundle of instrumental energy never cease to draw a crowd and get them dancing – and this time with a full-size pineapple.
It’s taken some time for them to start getting the recognition they deserve in the UK, but now they’ve brought out a stonking debut album Carnival Flower and they’re doing a small number of dates across the UK before hitting the festival circuit again. The album artwork is beautiful, with the striking cover image of Tena adorned in some kind of Egyptian queen music-inspired graphic headgear.
It’s no easy feat to fill Liverpool’s Kazimier on a weekday, but Molotov Jukebox have done it nicely. As the band arrive onstage, whoops and applause greet Natalia Tena as she takes to the mic. Any newcomers would be immediately bowled over by Tena’s unique vocals as well as the band’s impressive attentiveness to their audience. It’s soon feeling like a house gig, and even the most laid back of us are swaying hips and singing along. Sex Foot is a great start to ease us in, with tempo-upping from Something For The Weekend. Laid To Rest really gets feet tapping and reveals the amazing tracks that this band are producing, while crowd-pleaser Don’t Panic begins as a torch song evolving into a blistering 1940s-style trumpet-filled jazz track.
Mid-way through, the band award the “best dancer” in the room a prize – yes, it’s the pineapple. Absolutely delighted, the winner dances vigorously with the fruit held aloft for the rest of the show, Tena laughing at this gesture with glee.
Violinist Sam Apley gets on the mic for House Fire Smile for a duet with Tena, which works brilliantly. The room temperature is now a lot higher with sweaty bodies practically pogoing along and taking the opportunity to try out salsa moves. I Need It is a massive hit with the crowds, and new single Neon Lights (the official video stars actress Oona Chaplin of Game of Thrones, Spooks, Sherlock, The Crimson Field) draws us towards the closing of the long set.
The band rush off and back on to the stage, and with more swigging of what we assume is a bottle of rum, they’re back to give us more reason to get some mid-week exercise. The merch desk is mobbed as all band members wait patiently for signings and photos. They’re a barrel of fun and Tena is genuinely grateful for the praise and investment. It’s been often asked how she manages to balance her two very intense careers, but being one of the most hardworking and high-energy people I’ve ever met, I imagine that even if it’s a struggle, she’s loving every minute of it.