BWW Review: ANGELIQUE KIDJO at The VETS
Angelique Kidjo's music is most often classified as "world" music. In fact, she won her fourth Grammy just last month for Best World Music Album, Celia, which celebrated the music of the late salsa legend, Celia Cruz.
But "global" is a far more accurate label-global in outlook, global in appeal, global in influence, and global in importance. Her influences and collaborations have truly been diverse -she's worked with Josh Groban, Dianne Reeves, and Bono, to name just a few. Originally from West Africa, she lived in France and now calls New York home.
And she delivered this global perspective in a precise, energetic, and heartfelt show to a full house -and one that was delightfully diverse in every way- who leapt to their feet, sang, and dance at Angelique's invitation at the VETS in Providence, February 22.
The show featured much from her 2018 Remain in Light, a cover of the Talking Heads' 1980 landmark album of the same name. In her interpretation, she brought the African-influenced material full circle to its African roots. She also brought the material full circle in another way by bringing it to Providence, where three of the four members of The Talking Heads were students at the Rhode Island School of Design. But Providence is now Angelique's town too, as evidenced by the overwhelmingly appreciative audience, many of whom perhaps had seen her at FirstWorks' 2015 PVD Fest, where Angelique captivated an entire audience on a late spring night outdoors in Kennedy Plaza.
Angelique also spoke about the importance of Remain in Light in her own life, as she first heard it in France after fleeing the dictatorship in her home of Benin in the early 1980s.
However, it was the performances of her own songs like Afirika and a cover of African music legend Miriam Mekaba's Pata Pata that were the highlights of the evening.
Like many of her concerts, this show began at perfection and climbed to sublime. The fact that a concert can begin with a pure drum solo-and enthrall an audience with it - speaks volumes to the caliber of musicians that accompanied her. Magatte Sow, percussionist from Senegal began the show with a riveting performance on hand drums, including congas and djembes. He was later featured on talking drum amid a jubilant collection of audience members dancing on stage, a signature feature of Angelique's shows.
He was joined by Yayo Serka of Chilé on drumset, Michael Olatuja of Nigeria on bass, and Dominic James of New York City on guitar.
FirstWorks' 2020 seasons continues February 29 with Haitian-American violinist and composer Daniel Bernard Roumain in a collaboration with local musicians for a performance of "Redemption Songs and Sonatas," at the First Unitarian Church of Providence.
Multimedia performance artist Miwa Matreyek's Glorious Visions in Animation will be presented March 25 at Providence College.
On April 24 FirstWorks welcomes America's Got Talent finalists Diavolo Architecture in Motion to PPAC, showcasing their unique blend of dance, acrobatics, and gymnastics.
FirstWorks' season concludes with the glittering outdoor celebration of art and performance, PVD Fest, in June.
Go to first-works.org for more information.