Amadou & Mariam at Cedar Cultural Center, 6/28/13
|Photo by Andy Hall|
Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis
Friday, June 28, 2013
In the midst of an amazing "African Summer" series at the Cedar Cultural Center and on the heels of an appearance from Afrobeat star Femi Kuti this past week the "blind couple from Mali" Amadou and Miriam set the tone going into the weekend with another fantastic performance.
With ear-to-ear grins, the two brought the same magic to the Cedar as they had last year. The audience, all on their feet, were feverishly moving to their traditional sound. Language barriers aside, Amadou Bagayoko stunned with his stellar guitar playing that glided like a snake amongst the driving rhythms and his sweetheart Mariam Doumbia's heavenly voice. After each addressing of the band and audience in French, they'd add a spirited "Let's Go!" before each crowd favorite.
A four-piece band comprised of excellent African percussion created a flurry of rhythms, synth, drums and bass. Meanwhile, Amadou continued solo after solo throughout the night. Delivering a blues-styled attack that struck raw nerves with lyrical phrasing and hypnotic melody, his approach ultimately represented the essence of their musical style and provided the perfect soundtrack for the weekend revelers filling the room.
With her voice elevated above the continuous energy, Mariam brought a bit of elegance with each song. Eventually taking a rest, she'd leave the stage and things became somewhat of a boy's night out. With a disco beat moving the sound forward the band primed the canvas for Amadou to continue to bring the voodoo down with masterful finesse on his gold finished guitar with the bass player enthusiastically thumping and popping in steady rhythm.
As Mariam returned to the stage to boisterous applause, Amadou urged the audience, "Dance together, sing together, jump up and down together, let's go!" Their voices intertwining, the sweetness was overflowing on stage for the encore with a mesmerizing slow jam of sorts, "Baby, Baby I Love you. Te Amo, Kiss Amo." Breaking into a rocking finale, Amadou and Mariam led the crowd through some call-and-response that ultimately climaxed with a grand finish.
"Merci, thank you everybody!" she cried out, taking a bow towards an enraptured audience that didn't want the night to end.
Critic's Bias: I found so much joy from last year's Amadou and Miriam performance at the Cedar I really considered this one the more anticipated jams of the summer in a long line of excellent African music coming to the venue this year.
The Crowd: Very high energy going into Pride weekend and ready to party all Summer long.
Overheard in the Crowd: "Man, he tears that thing up just like Stevie Ray Vaughan!"
Random Notebook Dump: Such a treat to experience music like this. In his relentless style I could listen to Amadou Bagayoko play guitar all day.