I honestly don’t believe that a couple of days can truly showcase the rich diversity of music that comes out of Africa. A couple of days ago at Koko, London, there was the ‘Africa Express’ show, a prelude to what to expect at the Barbican’s ‘Africa Now’ gig yesterday night. Granted, it wasn’t an all-rounded representation of music from all over Africa, it being predominately sounds from West Africa, mainly Mali and Senegal. That said, though, you couldn’t but not get into the swing of things yesterday.
Or so I thought until half-way through the performance. Picture the scene, if you will: I’ve forgotten the act that was on, but the majority of people in the auditorium were up and about dancing and generally having a good time. One of the tracks had ended and suddenly, out from the lull, a voice cried out, ” Could people please sit down, please? I can’t see anything!!”, to which I’m sure I heard someone reply, “Then bloody get up, then!!” Now, I know for a fact that the plea couldn’t have come from someone in a wheelchair: there’s a section in the Barbican that gives an elevated position priority for people with physical disabilities to view the stage, so that rules that angle out. Which begs the question: why come to a venue to celebrate music, only for you just to sit down and not have fun?
That said though, it was a long and uplifting night: from beautiful Kora playing to Rachid Taha’s rendition of The Clash’s ‘Rock the Casbah’. I even had Damon Albarn sitting right next to my legs on the stairs, and I got chatting with him for a bit. The highlight from me, though, had to be a young chap called Muntu Valdo. He is definitely one to hear.
Anyway, shots from the night:
Toumani Diabate, Damon Albarn, Bassekou Kouyate: