Yeah, it was a busy evening.
Justin Adams and his Gambian counterpart Juldeh Camara played an amazing set in the large ‘Siam’ Tent, hugely bluesy but with a truly international feeling as Juldeh’s Riti playing took hold. Playing with the kind of bow that looks like it ought to shoot arrows, the ancient fiddle type instrument emitted sounds which were at once otherworldly, as well as deeply African.
A big clash for me was the Orchestra National de Barbes, with their joyous French African stylings, and the sonic assault of the Sofrito sound system crew, who kept dropping eclecticly selected international dance tracks, with the encouragement of the worlds most laid back MC. Judging by the rate they were getting through beer, they were probably all a bit laid back by the end of the set.
Bibi Tanga & The Selenites played a set of mixed up funk and soul, with some hip hop sounds thrown in, a very cool sound owing quite a bit to some of the best acts of the last thirty years, but sounding deeply original too. Over at the Radio Three stage meanwhile, a hyperactive Dele Sosimi was demonstrating exactly why he had been an important part of the Afro Beat story back in the day. Based in London now, he plays his own brand of Afro Beat, which owes a lot to his formative years spent with Fela and then Femi Kuti. A great sound, which was warmly received – speacially considering the fact that both bands were up against Imogen Heap and her all star guest line up.
For world music fans Salif Keita needs no introduction, he is now one of the key ‘elder statesmen’ of African music. Hailing from Mali he has racked up an impressive, even impeccable CV which has led him to world wide renown as a golden voiced singer with amazing vocal talents.
His spell binding set kept fans in rapt attentiveness and joyful abandon, while over on the other side of the arena site, another legend was hosting a punky reggae party – Don Letts was wacking out heavy heavy bass and rocking rhythms which kept the crowd on their feet and in party mood.
That wasnt all for the night, Cerys Matthews and a load of other acts kept the party going until the early hours, but that was enough for me – I was dead on my feet already. Lightweight – I know.