Thursday, October 23, 2008

Orchestra Baobab!

At the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury, last Monday, part of the current Canterbury Festival.

I honestly think that was the best band I've ever seen. Ranking things of a musical nature according to linear orderings doesn't make a lot of sense, but even so...

The small, bestpectacled lead guitarist (and unlikely band leader) Barthélemy Attisso was like all of my favourite guitarists at the same time, producing an endless sort of quicksilver flow of Hawaiian/Django/Fripp/Garcia inventiveness.

Barthélemy Attisso in action
Barthélemy Attisso in action (Den Haag, Netherlands)

Two guitars, two saxes, two singers, two superb Afro-Cuban style percussionists and a super-fat, fluid bass - no dodgy keyboard sounds, no gimmicks, no "In my country..." WOMAD-esque spiel, just two hours of indescribably wonderful music. At one point I could feel the music sort of prising my heart chakra open - almost too much to take. Eventually they had a good part of the theatre on its feet (I'd love to see them in a stand-up venue or at a festival), and then the aisles filled up with happy dancing people.

There was an attempt at visual uniformity - seven of the nine orchestra members were wearing matching African-patterned shirts. The two nonconformists were one of the singers (sharp suit) and one of the sax players (bizarre dress sense, weird sequined hat framing Miles-like scowl), the latter managing to involve a few funky moves in the proceedings.

If planet Earth had to send a delegation to an intergalactic battle-of-the-bands, Orchestra Baobab would definitely be my first choice. This is how we do it on Earth...


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