Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Ladysmith Black Mambazo

Lucy Adams reviews Ladysmith Black Mambazo's performance in Glasgow.
Most people will be familiar with the warm, glorious harmonies of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, either from hearing them on adverts for Heinz soup or on Paul Simon's album Graceland.

Joseph Shabalala, their founder, composer and lead-singer, says their style of singing, which employs unique harmonies incorporating Christian choirs and Zulu chants, came to him in a dream. The resulting sound certainly created a dream-like quality and the combination of such powerful yet melodious voices swung between rousing and soporific extremes.

They were polished, highly professional, endearing and yet at times seemed a little out of touch, at least in this venue, with their roots.

Vusi Mahlasela, whose fans in his native South Africa simply call him "The Voice", supported them in such a good-hearted, neighbourly fashion as to bring the audience closer despite the vastness of the space. During apartheid his protest songs landed him in jail on several occasions. His anecdotes about how he composed a particular song on toilet paper and his granny drove away the police with pots and pans, added a human resonance to the performance.

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