St. Georges, Bristol
In Dakar last night, the temperature was slowly falling after a steamy day to a low of about 26 degrees overnight.
At St. Georges, in the middle of Bristol, the same evening started at a sultry 27 degrees, still holding by about 7:45 pm. But then, over the following nearly two hours, it shot up to what I estimated to be at least a sweltering 35 degrees. My T-shirt was soaked. Despite this thermogeddon, like everyone else around me, I found myself dancing, lost in the flowing, sinuous magic that enveloped me from the stage.
Hot? Sweaty? Legs aching? Sure. Absolutely bloody wonderful, joyous and life-affirming. After two months of feeling diminished and depleted by an unexpected illness, miraculously I finally felt ALIVE again. I couldn’t stop grinning. It made me so happy I nearly cried.
The source of all this personal and collective joy was a nine-piece band I’ve been keen to see play live since the day I bought ‘Great Moments In Vinyl History’, and then the mighty compilation known as ‘Pirates Choice’. The band was Orchestra Baobab, and like the rest of the grinning, dancing, clapping, smiling capacity crowd, I was delighted to find that they damn well delivered.
Almost two hours of this endlessly celebratory music flashed past in what seemed like half an hour of happy madness. A couple of times, audience members were invited on stage to dance with the band, most notably a young girl who got a huge ovation for showing all the codgers in the house (your scribe included) what the art of dancing looks like when you’re barely in your teens and still have the bottomless pit of energy that most of us can only remember with envy. A totally brilliant moment.
Take my advice if you can, grab a ticket and see this lot, it’s like a shot in the arm for anyone living in what currently often seems like a lifeless, forelorn little country run by the clueless – this is graceful, mellifluous, irresistible music melded from the west of Africa and the Caribbean, delivered with charm, verve and unassailable musical chops. Baby, if you ain’t dancin’ to these guys, you must be dead.
Remaining tour dates – one in Glasgow, two nights in London – see the link in the comments. Go!
The St. Georges standard Brizzle luvvie mob, with additional Afterworder types, the odd dreadlocked hippy, and a fair smattering of African fans who had been lucky to find themselves close enough to town to make it to the gig.
It made me think..
What jabs will I need to have had to get to Dakar one day to experience the local scene for myself.