As the MC declares that we’re to fulfill “the king of African pop” earlier than Youssou N’Dour comes on stage, this nonetheless appears to underplay the historical past and significance of probably the most celebrated and influential dwelling musician on the continent. The Senegalese singer and songwriter reworked the west African music scene by mixing historical influences with the very fashionable after which took his music to the world. Now 63, N’Dour stays an exciting performer.
A lithe, athletic determine with cropped hair, glasses and sporting a classy black-and-white swimsuit, he warms up with ballad Xale Rewmi, gathers tempo with reward tune Serin Fallu after which eases into certainly one of his nice melodic anthems, Li Ma Weesu. By now he’s joined by his full 10-piece band, with 4 percussionists together with virtuoso speaking drum participant Assane Thiam and two backing singers. N’Dour is blessed with probably the most distinctive, highly effective tenor voices in Africa, and tonight he’s on magnificent type, remodeling and remodeling dance songs and emotional ballads with pressing spontaneity and sudden bursts of improvisation as he sways and dances throughout the stage.
It’s a mode that he developed again within the early 80s, when he reworked conventional Senegalese mbalax with influences that included Cuban rumba and soul. His exhilarating dance music swept the nation, and he launched worldwide audiences to African music when he performed alongside Peter Gabriel, Bruce Springsteen, Tracy Chapman and Sting on the 1988 Human Rights Now! world tour. Six years later he launched his bestselling album The Information (Wommat), which included his hit duet with Neneh Cherry, 7 Seconds. Tonight, Cherry’s half is taken by Pascale “Kali” Kameni Kamga from Cameroon, and the tune is given a gutsy, pressing makeover as they repeat “we don’t need the youngsters struggling no extra”.
N’Dour is a significant participant in Senegal. He has a media empire, together with a newspaper and radio and tv stations, has stood for president and served as minister of tourism. The night time earlier than this present he was resulting from be honoured on the Songlines music awards, however needed to cancel as he was summoned to a gathering with the Senegalese president – coming from a griot household he has up to date the normal griot function of preserving historical past alive and offering recommendation to rulers. His music isn’t simply well-liked, however comes with a message. One in all his best-loved songs, the singalong Birima, praises a Nineteenth-century king, and the set ends with the considerate New Africa, expressing hope for unity on the continent.
N’Dour returns for an encore that lasts for 45 minutes. He strikes into get together mode, feeding off the power of the gang – a lot of them from the diaspora – within the packed corridor as he reworks the cheerful Completely satisfied and provides livid scat passages to I Love You. He ends with the offended No Extra, a tune of political disappointment (“you promised to make good … thus far nothing”) that he first launched in 1992 however hasn’t misplaced a drop of its efficiency.