Surianne and the Fusion perform in UK Festival
By Claire Spencer
Surianne and The Fusion had their first taste of playing in the UK when they were on the same bill as Altered Images, The Beat, and China Crisis at the Eyes Have It Music Festival at Duffield, Derbyshire, recently.
I had previously been impressed with Surianne’s music when I’d seen her play at The Cabana Beach Bar at Camp Bay, a couple of summers back, and so I approached the organiser of The Eyes Have It Festival in my capacity in publicity circles to bend his ear. So impressed was he that he agreed to have the band play on the main stage this year; and so Surianne made arrangements for the invitation to become a reality, which it surely did with bells and whistles on.
There’d been a couple of changes since I’d last seen the band: Brothers Louis and Dani Chipolina are mainstays; Louis works closely with Surianne composing songs, whilst guitarist Nigel Canepa has joined the current lineup with Albert Gonzalez on drums. In fact, Albert and Louis have serious history going back to the 80s when they played together in what was Gibraltar’s finest heavy rock band at that time called ‘The Atom Bombers,’ so they complement each other really well in this new project.
Another person with longstanding musical form on The Rock is keyboard player Chris Johnson, with experience that goes back many years to the days of Bourbon Street pub.
The festival wasn’t without drama: three numbers into her set, the skies darkened and the heavens opened up with heavy rain, thunder and lightning, and the power had to be cut off for fear of a lightning strike. The band were huddled backstage in the crew tent sheltering from the storm while management hurriedly rearranged the remaining acts so that, in the event of the storm passing, the band could still play.
Fortunately, the storm did abate sufficiently to allow the band to play another short set before headliners Altered Images took to the stage. The crowd enthusiastically returned armed with brollies and raincoats to hear Surianne sing ‘My Angel’ and ‘The Day Has Come.’
As the music faded Ted, the mercurial festival MC, bounded onstage to thank the band and to announce that they’d be returning the following day to do a full set.
Sunday morning dawned bright warm and sunny as the band arrived so grateful to be given the extra slot in such a busy festival.
Duly sound-checked and ready to go, the band were champing at the bit to get going, and get going they most certainly did, playing for the best part of an hour.
Surianne has an engaging onstage presence as well as a wonderful voice supported by an excellent band which made those at the festival sit up and take notice. Indeed, several people approached me afterwards to say that her act was the best they’d seen over the weekend.
Songs played included some tracks from upcoming independent single releases, namely ‘She Flies,’ ‘Crazy,’ ‘Fight On,’ and the one that really hit the spot was ‘My Angel,’ a song inspired by Surianne’s grandmother, which has a wonderfully subtle fusion of Spanish and North African rhythms interspersed with Surianne’s ethereal vocals.
Nigel Canepa’s guitar was spot on with some really tasty licks, whilst Louis Chipolina’s bass added yet another depth to the music as did Albert Gonzalez’s solid drumming along with Dani’s percussion. The addition of Chris Johnson on keyboards is another bonus to the band’s overall sound, whilst the festival’s sound system was right on the button with the sound engineers adding their expertise to make the whole experience an absolute joy to listen to.
Other songs included in the playlist were ‘Cold Cruel Winter’, ‘Warning’, ‘Freedom’, ‘Oh Daddy’ and ‘The Day Has Come’; the latter being yet another one that grabbed my attention forcibly, and made me sit up and take notice of this very talented lady and her band proudly flying the flag for Gibraltar on the international music stage.
Hopefully Surianne and The Fusion will return to play The Eyes Have It Music Festival in 2024, but meanwhile she’d like to express her gratitude to Gibraltar Cultural Services for their financial grant which went towards funding the trip.
She also sends many thanks to everyone at the festival for their support, including organiser Simon Clark and not forgetting all the acts who so kindly allowed their timings to be tweaked so that her band could play.