Thursday, July 13, 2006

Do You Feel Alive?

View from the Third Tier

Last night, the Perelman Theater at the Kimmel Center was transformed into an international dance fest as the king and queen of world music, Amadou & Mariam (a blind married couple from Bamako - the capital of Mali) energized a mixed-age audience into a really energetic set of fun.

The band definitely started out slow. But song-by-song for the roughly 75 minute set, the band built up the energy to a fever pitch by the end. Amadou was definitely the leader, as his wife and partner Mariam only came on-stage to join him for about 3 or 4 songs. Her visage was totally blank though except for a couple smiles when she rubbed Amadou's head while saying in English, "I love you, baby."

The other really funny part and the reason for this post's title is Amadou kept repeating the phrase, "Do you feel alive?" in his strong Malian accent. Obviously, he doesn't know much English and this was a genuine phrase that both fueled and captured the energy the band was generating for the enthusiastic crowd.

Highlights for me were from their latest album, Dimanche A Bamako. Some of the songs played included the title track, M'Bife (which I think has something to do with love), Liberte, and an engaging audience participation piece where the audience would repeat these words after Amadou uttered them in succession in the song's verse: "fatigué," "malheureux," and "misérable," which in French mean tired, unhappy, and miserable respectively (go 8 years of French!).

View from Stage Right

Anyways it was hot. This was all part of World Music Wednesdays that the Kimmel Center is hosting throughout July. Next week is a group called Daara J from Senegal, the week after a group from India called Musafir, and they are ending the miniseries with Tiempo Libre from Havana via Miami.

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