Rufino and the Coconuts, Mikelangelo @ the Turner Bowls, 22nd Mar, 2014
by Jasmina Atanasievska

After Paradise Island, a Hawaiian-themed concert at Turner Bowls Club on Saturday March 22, I noticed I was drawn to listen to the music of Lana Del Ray and Croatian rock musician Neno Belan – they reminded me of that night on Paradise Island.

Rufino & the Coconuts and special guest Mikelangelo took me to an interesting holiday destination. My favourite Rufino & the Coconuts song from that evening was their second, ‘Teeth, Teeth’ (‘Zubi, Zubi’), about a dentist, or ‘zubar’. I don’t think I will ever forget the refrain; it slices into your mind and stays there.

Because I come from what used to be Yugoslavia, and therefore understand 99% of the Croatian words Rufino used that night (like the ones related to teeth and dentistry), I will take the liberty of comparing this group’s style of music to that of Neno Belan, a great Croatian musician and singer from the ’80s.

Croatia largely borders the Adriatic Sea, and most good pop music in ex-Yugoslavia came from groups and singers who originated on those shores. The music (and the accompanying videos) would bring you to the sea: beaches, summer, dreaming by the water, ocean life, falling in love with strangers (read: tourists), islands … beauty, generally speaking. So you can spot some common influences here. To top it all off, Rufino & the Coconuts write and play all their songs for dancing. When Rufino said to the crowd, “Now, all sit down,” everybody laughed uproariously – nice.

Such an atmosphere fitted well with the other performer, Mikelangelo. He had Elvis Presley hair and songs reminiscent of Elvis-era rock ‘n’ roll and Beach Boys surf rock. Mikelangelo (is he Italian or from somewhere around the Adriatic coast, I again feel that style?) also communicated well with the crowd, and they cheerfully responded.

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