AMP homeEventsSpecial featuresRecommended cdsRecommended readingVarious photosContact AMPRelevant links
Concert Reviews

© Mark Allan / Barbican

Rokia Traoré: Village Underground, London, 23rd June 2012
Rokia Traoré was in London for 3 shows with different emphases (Sing - Dance - Dream) during one week in June and will be back in July for 'Desdemona' at the Barbican in which she'll play the part of the African nurse Barbary.
At the Village Underground in Shoreditch, Rokia starts off with Dounia, a song from her album 'Tchamantche' which would be familiar to her fans gathered there. After that she and her new band present new songs to be featured on her forthcoming album due for release later in 2012. Producer of the new album, British musician John Parish, joins in too. Some of the songs are in Bambara but the 4th one, Mama, is in English and will easily become a favourite to mark occasions such as Mothers' Day.
Rokia takes time to chat to her audience between songs and they love that. For example, she explained her reasons for composing Melancholie, which has French lyrics. It’s soon followed by a Billie Holiday cover, the very intense Gloomy Sunday (a few years ago she was part of a tribute tour 'Billie and Me'). Rokia says that people need to get along together - did she see that two people in the audience almost had a fight because one found the other was taking up too much space dancing, I wonder?! and quotes a proverb from Mali: You can’t be tall and short at the same time. Her final song before being called back for an encore is Tuituit – as the title suggests it’s about the calling of birds that Rokia hears when she wakes up in Bamako and they seem to be addressing her - in these days of Twitter, that was amusing!

© Anne Wanjie

© Joshua Jordan

Mama Africa: Celebrating Miriam Makeba. Curated and presented by Angelique Kidjo
On 21st November 2009 a full house at the Barbican waited with eager expectation to find out what form this tribute to Miriam, lovingly known as Mama Africa - one year after she died - would take. Charismatic as ever, Angelique Kidjo was hostess supreme. As well as singing a few songs solo during the evening, Angelique introduced some of the artists and joined in duets with them. In one of her informative anecdotes about Miriam, Angelique explained how Miriam, the real star of the evening, was her role model.
As Miriam had lived in Guinea for many years it was appropriate that West Africans Sayon Bamba, Dobet Gnahore, Asa, Baaba Maal and Vieux Farka Touré performed. Both Sayon and Dobet are beguiling dancers – their renditions of Hapo Zamani, Dubula and Kilimanjaro were outstanding. All the songs were taken from Miriam’s repertoire except Angelique’s Afirika which she sang from within the audience – something she is well-known for doing. Angelique also sang Surilam, the beautiful Indonesian lullaby.
Throughout the evening the main performers were accompanied by a powerful and energetic band – sometimes suitably pared down – and a South African trio chorus who were Miriam’s own backing vocalists. South African Vusi Mahlasela put all his energy into Mama Ndiyalila as a duet with Angelique, and then The Click Song.
At the end of the show all the artists and the audience were on their feet to party joining in the very popular Pata Pata and, as an encore, Soweto Blues with obvious enjoyment. It was an honourable tribute to Miriam with artists and band members from so many different countries singing in several different languages joining in her much-loved music which itself was truly international. Attending the concert has given me a renewed interest in Miriam's music to the extent of buying more of her CDs!

© Anne Wanjie