Witnessed the remarkable Amadou and Maryam yesterday night at the Shepherds Bush Empire. The duo are from Mali, both blind and a married couple who weave powerful tunes which can I guess be filed under “world music”. To get more info on them see this Observer piece, although they have been bigged up everywhere: their London gig was the must-see event of the day in the Evening Standard . Was going to blog a review today but looks like I’ve been beaten to it by this blogger here. Like him I was a newbie to them but found them a compelling live act: the duo in the middle providing searing vocals and fluid guitar surrounded by a brace of percussionists, dancers, a bassist and guy on I think fairlight or some technology – couldn’t completely see – with the whole packed-to-the-rafters crowd of mainly middle class white world music afficionados/ French expats all grooving away.
Instead then I thought I would share some reflections of the support act: Ebony Bones. To these ears they were a brash outfit fronted by a strong female upfront wearing what looked like a cassock and propounding percussion-heavy powerchord laced pop. The result recalls Adam and the Ants, Public Image Limited, Siousxie and the Banshees and Bow Wow Wow. With the space age synth effects provided by 21-years-young keyboardist Emily Francis in polka dot dress combined with insistent pounding rhythms of the three (or was it more?) drummers onstage, they managed to sound futuristic and primitive at once. This lot are huge in contintental Europe (I caught them at a festival in Lyon a couple of years ago where Beatlemania type hysteria ensued at their appearance). They are however like say 1990s outfit Freaky Realistic or Bush who were big in America relatively unknown on their native turf: a state of affairs that if there’s any justice in this world will change before too long. The pics I tried to take were not the best but here is one to give you the gist:
World music it probably wasn’t but then again we are all citizens of the world I guess. Top night all round.