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Live Reviews

Daby Toure/Amadou and Mariam
July 16, 2006

By Ernest Barteldes
Central Park Summerstage
New York

African music was on the menu last Sunday at Central Park, and despite the intense heat (which marked close to 100 degrees), the space was filled nearly to capacity to see these two artists, who enjoy a loyal following both in their countries and abroad.

 

After an opening by Djs Birdy Nam Nam,  Daby Touré stepped onstage with a simple group: himself on acoustic guitar plus a bassist and percussionist.  He quickly began with a country-inflected tune, calling on the audience to to clap their hands along with the music. He cleverly used loops to create a fourth instrument – his guitar often doubled as a percussive instrument, and he soloed against the looped rhythm.

 

He went on to deliver a high-energy set, and connected with the audience immediately. When someone in the crowd screamed "via Israel" (a comment certainly stemming from the current situation in the Middle East), he responded with  "Vive Le Monde – everybody together", which got him loud applause.

 

The band sounded incredibly tight, and the chemistry between the musicians, who have been touring the U.S. as of this writing – is obvious. The music was well-received,  and the band seemed to feed from that. Touré did a sing-along bit, teaching the audience the words to one of his songs. The groove had a certain pop-jazz quality to it. Touré has great guitar skills.

 

"We should think about the people who live in countries in war", he said as he introduced the final song, a percussion-rich funk-based groove. As he finished his set, he got loud applause from fans, who were there for the evening's main event.

 

Backed by a four-piece band (keys, drums, bass, percussion) , Amadou (who also plays lead guitar) and Mariam took the stage with "La Fete Au Village", a song from their latest album, "Dimanche à Bamako", which had a more rock edge live. The songs were mostly in French, but several were in their native Malian language.

 

Amadou has amazing guitar chops, playing his Fender strat with a clean sound. He  obviously draws influence from electric blues and Hendrix, blending them with his own African heritage.  The  band sounds very tight, and both the bass player and the percussionist showed a lot of showmanship throughout the set, calling on the crowd to clap along with them.

 

Mariam left the stage momentarily, and<