Amadou and Miriam bring West African Dance Vibe to London, Live review from O2 Empire Shepherd’s Bush, April 13th 2012

Posted: April 15, 2012 in Music of Mali, West African music, World Music
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
Amadou and Miriam thrill the crowd at London's Shepherd's Bush Empire, Friday 13th April 2012

Amadou and Miriam thrill the crowd at London's Shepherd's Bush Empire, Friday 13th April 2012

Amadou and Miriam bring African Dance Vibe to London

Malian duo Amadou and Mariam brought their vibrant show to London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire and wowed the crowd in the process – a feat made all the more remarkable because most of the songs are in Malian languages -mainly Bambara and French with a few of the choruses in English. Fortunately for me I had an advantage over many in that I speak French so some songs I did understand. I won’t get too hung up on it, though; good music is good music in whatever culture. The infectious polyphonic rhythms transcended the language barrier as witnessed by the steady mild bouncing movements of the jigging crowd firstly on the ground level and then as the gig progressed up onto the balconies.

The other remarkable fact for those not familiar with the duo is that Amadou Bagayoko and Miriam Doumbia are both blind and have been for all their adult lives. Apart from being guided onto centre stage to the microphones, this proves to be no disadvantage. Though, the pair are very talented on their own as they prove in the opening, it doesn’t hurt to have a strong band consisting of keyboard bass, drums and percussion as well as two lively backing singer providing some energetic african ( I assume Malian) dancing, backing you up. It is hard to pick all the titles because of the said language barrier. Although, Amadou was announcing the song as he went, the roar of the crowd made his accented voice hard to hear for Malian songs.

I had better luck with the French titles. Of these, I particularly enjoyed the bluesy tone of Amadou’s voice combined with the west african roots rhythms on the track “Oh Amadou” and the passion of “Mon Afrique”. “Dimanche a Bamako” (Sunday in Bamako)  that closed the pre-encore part brought a popular reponse, particular from french speaking contingents in the crowd. It was shame Miriam whose lyrically strong voice imposed itself mid-way through the gig could not complete the show. She looked unsteady on her feet and had to be helped off.  Amadou and his translator later explained she was feeling tired. So the last 30 minutes Amadou and the band did a first rate job in holding the show. Amadou did a amazing an 8 minute guitar solo and in the encore the song “Africa” cranked up the atmosphere several notches to the extent that the even the majority on the balconies were up on their feet.

 

Amadou rocks out during a great guitar solo at Shepherd's Bush Empire, April 13th 2012

Amadou rocks out during a great guitar solo at Shepherd's Bush Empire, April 13th 2012

Though it was a shame that Miriam could not complete the concert, there was still a buzz through the whole gig. The audience loved it, I loved it. At the end, when it was announced that it was Miriam’s birthday, the next day, they even sang Happy Bithday to her. What a lovely way to finish.

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