Review: Angelique Kidjo and Fatoumata Diawara

Going Strong: Angelique Kidjo

Going Strong: Angelique Kidjo

Her style is often brash and she has made some forgettable records, but Angélique Kidjo deserves celebrity status thanks to her campaigning work and her ability to throw a memorable party. She was the ideal headliner for this International Women’s Day celebration, even if she wasn’t the finest singer in the hall. Now in her 50s but still wildly energetic, she whipped off her headscarf to show her cropped blonde hair as she eased from her High Life tribute, Kelele, to an impressive, gently jazzy treatment of Sidney Bechet’s Petit Fleur, sung in French, before suddenly launching into an angry lecture on female circumcision. After that came the sing-along standards, with Malaika followed by an upbeat treatment of Marley’s Redemption Song, backed by an 11-piece choir.

There were, thankfully, no forays into rock, but she threw in a gutsy treatment of Curtis Mayfield’s Move on Up before heading for the African dance songs. A tribute to Miriam Makeba with Pata Pata was followed by her own Afrika, performed as she walked out among the audience. She then clearly horrified her security guard by inviting several hundred of the crowd to join her in the biggest and most cheerful stage invasion I have seen.

Kidjo was enormous fun, but Mali’s Fatoumata Diawara was something of a revelation. She once sounded professional but lacking in intensity or excitement, but has now massively improved. This was a sophisticated, attacking set in which controlled and powerful vocals were matched against a passionate peace song for Mali, followed by an inspired dance workout. It was a highly entertaining show, with a free bonus outside the main hall for those who arrived early – an impressively cool, jazzy set from the young San Francisco-based Ethiopian singer Meklit Hadero.

Source: Guardian UK

Tags: , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: