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Review: Angélique Kidjo at Hamer Hall

Review By Jessica Flynn


What an absolutely phenomenal performance by Angélique Kidjo at Hamer Hall. It was an honour to see one of the greats of African music presented by Arts Centre Melbourne as a part of their arrangement with Adelaide Festival. She is a musical force renowned for her electrifying performances and boundary-pushing fusion of Afrobeat, jazz, funk, and traditional African rhythms. She has been recognised for her contribution to the world with many accolades including winning five Grammys, named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the World and one of the top 100 most inspiring women in the world by The Guardian, appointed a global UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and awarded the prestigious 2023 Polar Music Prize.


During the show, Angélique shared a story about how she was inspired/determined to become a singer when witnessing a female lead singer take complete control of a stage and how she realised gender did not have to determine your path or demeanour and I couldn’t think of a more topical theme as we celebrate International Women’s Day this week. Angélique commanded the stage with grace and assertiveness that not only led her talented bandmates through the set but also moved the audience. Hamer Hall as a location has a certain solemness to it, so I was very pleased to see Angélique get the audience out of their seats by the third song and dancing without inhibition by the fifth! The crowd was an integral part of the show – be prepared to wave your arms in the air and sing along as you are transported through over 35 years of music. Also be prepared to be treated with a bit of a comedy show as Angélique breaks up her set with anecdotes from her life and playful banter with the audience and band.


The overall setting did not detract from the showrunner and instead facilitated a calm or an upbeat atmosphere, depending on the song. Most importantly, the lighting reflected Angélique’s African-style dress making it change colour from purple to pink depending on the mood of the song.


The supporting act Maatakitj, stage name of Noongar song-maker, composer and academic Clint Bracknell, was also fantastic. Their sound meshed really well with Angélique’s sound; even coming out for a part of Angélique’s set where she had translated one of their songs into her father language! Fantastic voices and sound, with a smooth vibe to match! They were accompanied by a great group of bandmates, and I loved their chemistry together (including their 'brother from another mother' on the percussive instruments).


All in all, Angélique Kidjo's concert was a transcendent experience that left a mark on everyone in attendance. Her artistry, passion, and ability to bridge cultural divides through music were on full display, making it a night to remember. Whether you are a long time fan or a newcomer to her music, witnessing Angélique Kidjo live is not just a concert; it is a celebration of the universal language of music and the boundless spirit of human connection.

Image Supplied


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