Angélique Kidjo has taken the Talking Heads album Remain In Light and given it a new lease of life and meaning. The album deemed as ground-breaking and innovative when it was released in the 1980s used many different layered rhythms from around the world, relying on natural musicians rather than tapes and loops, but also drawing closely from complex and intricate patterns from West Africa.
Almost 40 years later Benin born Kidjo has worked with producer Jeff Bhasker and reimagined the songs on that album mixing in influences from her own countries different dialects and from musicians like Fela Kuti . The album itself is new, vital and fresh and the messages of those original songs are teased out by Angélique to help make sense of the way the world is now in 2018.
Born Under Punches and Crosseyed And Painless open the show, the later mixed with Fela Kuti’s 1970s song called Lady. “She go say him equal to man. She go say him get power like man. She go say anything man do himself fit do” The lyrics reiterate Kidjo’s interaction with the audience about how some people in the world treat women and how important a woman’s role is to keep the world turning. This links brilliantly into her own compositional lament called Cauri about a girl whose choices in life are decided only by her parents.
Kidjo’s voice is joyful, soulful, mournful and multifaceted, when she mixes in the four main dialects of the Benin language into some of the songs you might think she has several backing singers and loops but there is no evidence of this on stage I just think she can do marvellous things with her sound. The band too are crisp and sharp and all the instruments can be heard…but a little more volume in the brass and bass would help bring it to life even more.