Driving to Southampton just after Glastonbury this year, I sat in the front with a friend of mine and she proceeded to play me the entirety of ‘Carnival Flower’, Molotov Jukebox’s 2014 album. I’d not heard of the band before but my friend assured me they were fantastic and even better live. Since then, I’ve been listening to the band’s various EPs and tracks frequently. They’ve become one of those bands that provide the soundtrack to so many different occasions. I was then incredibly excited to be asked to review the band’s gig at The Haunt this December and jumped at the chance.
With a new album on its way, Molotov Jukebox have made their way around some of the best venues in the vicinity for their preview tour for new album ‘Tropical Gypsy’. Discussing the album, lead singer Natalia Tena explains how they came to create the record, “I want to say thank you to our contributors. We raised [the money] through crowd-funding so we wanted to thank those who donated.” Five per cent of profits from the coming album will be donated to charity Womankind Worldwide. But why this particular charity? “I just think it’s incredibly unfair that just because you’re a woman you’re literally oppressed worldwide,” Tena tells me. “It’s just unacceptable… the wage gap, let alone forced marriage and rape, you know? I just like this idea of the fact that maybe me singing and working with this amazing charity could help these women have a voice. It just comes full circle.”
Tena has a pretty full plate. Starring in blockbuster films and one of the biggest TV franchises going, and having toured all over the world, and splitting her time between acting and music, she tells me that it’s all about balance. “If you do one too much, you crave the other,” she explains. That makes the fun-filled tour seem even more special, as it welcomes her other passion back into the forefront of her schedule. There’s apparently no preference for her as she enjoys the two industries for their different outcomes and experiences.
As the gig gets underway, support band The Church whip up the crowd’s excitement and provide a perfect starter for the main event. The members of Molotov adore their support as Tena wistfully tells me, “I want to tour with them forever!” After an electric set, Molotov Jukebox take the stage and the whole room is buzzing in anticipation. From the jazzy shirts to Tena’s flowery headdress, I feel like we’re at a festival (though with warmth and shelter) and the crowd start jumping along. We’re treated to the best of ‘Carnival Flower’ with new songs dropped in from time to time, making revellers cheer and dance harder than ever. Everyone is having a fantastic time, including the band as they beam out at the crowd behind their mics and instruments. One thing that strikes me is how laid back this band is. They command the room and the audience hangs off every lyric and note. It’s not their first visit to Brighton though as they played The Haunt about four years ago. Tena describes the gig, “it was chaos!” She laughs and reminisces about that night’s attire and sobriety: “I was dressed like a mermaid… the walking was not happening.” As Brighton lovers, Molotov Jukebox make it clear the debauchery of their past gig was fun and memorable though this gig has a focus on pushing the band forward. Their work with Womankind Worldwide only strengthens the idea these musicians are here to stay and eager to improve, not only themselves but also society and the world.