Music preview: The Cuban Brothers at the Old Queens Head
17:13 27 June 2012
The Cuban’s main man Mike Keat talks about globetrotting career as alter ego Miguel Mantovani
»A Cuban Brothers show is truly something to behold – a pair of swarthy moustachioed, hairy-chested men, backed by an array of musical characters, tearing through feel good Latin tunes while busting out some increasingly unlikely break-dance moves.
And if possible, things get more anarchic as the performance goes on: outrageous costumes, stripping, headspins and even roller-skating taking place with Hispanic aplomb.
It’s a full-blooded, impossible-not-to-like cabaret that has taken the brothers all over the world, but this weekend they are putting on a rare Islington show at the Old Queens Head in Essex Road.
But the Cubans’ humble origins belie their globetrotting status, as main man Miguel Mantovani (aka 36-year-old Scotsman Mike Keat) explains: “It started about 13 years ago when I was DJing on Tuesday nights in Edinburgh.
“Dance music was getting a bit full of itself in the late 90s and I started doing this routine.
“It was a chance for me to flaunt my spurious skills really – I had always been a bit of a B-boy and an MC, and had always sung in bands, so I put all that together.
“We went from taking about £150 a night to £3,000, and it moved pretty quickly from there, doing clubs and so on. Then we got residencies in Amsterdam and Barcelona, playing in Manumission in Ibiza.”
By this stage he had recruited a second member Archie, enlisted after thrashing Miguel in a breakdance battle.
“I charged into the circle and tried to battle him but he wiped the floor with me,” said Miguel. “I thought, if you can’t beat them get them to join you.”
The third core member of the group is Kengo – a sometime percussionist and full-time phenomenal breakdancer – and the three of them have taken the show far and wide, often backed by a full 12-piece band.
Miguel said: “The Cuban show incorporates the three main elements of entertainment, music comedy and dancing. We try and usually succeed in having a laugh doing it, and luckily we have also been able to entertain people along the way.
“It’s been a great way to earn a living.”
Those who have seen Miguel on stage would find it hard to forget his forceful Latin charm, but how did a lad from Scotland end up with such a sun-kissed persona?
“My inspiration was a guy who worked at the hotel I was living in when Dj-ing in Mallorca for a season. He was about 5 ft 3 ins, moustache, hat, the works. He did everything in the hotel; he was the DJ, led the dances, everything. His act was ridiculously sub-standard, but quality in it’s own way.
“It think it came out subconsciously when the Cubans’ started six years later. If I ever see him again I will give him a big backhander to say thank you.”