Oli Freke

Tech House / Techno / House

Amadou & Mariam: iTunes Festival gig review

A quick review from me of last night’s gig at the Roundhouse, Camden, with Amadou and Mariam.

French People
There were many many French people at the gig. I don’t know if this is because A&M are much bigger in France than here, or because Mali (where A&M are from) is an ex-French colony and somehow that’s the connection. Or because the support act Charlie Winston is apparently #1 in the French charts.

Charlie Winston – support
Never heard of him, but he claimed to have the #1 selling album currently in France. Seems bizarre as his band were fairly conventional acoustic blues-rock. Why pick him over any other average acoustic pop-rock band?

Not sure, but if you happen to be in an average soundingacoustic blues-rock band struggling to make an impact here in the UK, I suggest you head over to France!

Amadou & Mariam
Yey! They were great, deploying their highly funky and surprisingly fierce-at-times sounding afro-beat-pop. I’d forgotten to mention to Meg that Amadou and Mariam were both blind, so she was surprised when they were helped on by stagehands. You realise how much performers must rely on seeing the audience when you find a pair of musicians who it doesn’t matter how much you wave your hands or dance in front if, they won’t be able to see the effect. There was plenty of cheering to keep them assured of our presence though.

But it’s the music what matters, and it’s rare for a 90 minute set go by so quickly. The crowd took a few songs to warm up, but by the end the atmosphere was hot, everyone dancing.

The only slight weirdness was by the end of the last song, we all knew they hadn’t played their hit song ‘Senegal Fast Food’ so when the musicians left the stage, we the audience did the usual ‘encore’ and ‘more’ stuff expecting it to be played. So when a roadie came on and unplugged the first microphone it caused the crowd to actually boo – which isn’t great form, no matter how much you wanted another song.

I had actually spent the week trying to learn words of Senegal Fast Food so I could sing along, which is a surprisingly tricky task, and was cruelly deprived of this opportunity…

I notice that Amadou & Mariam are playing the Big Chill next week – and so am I with Cassette, so hopefully they play it then and I can test my pigeon French and Malinese (if that’s the language of the chorus)