Friday, August 7

London African Gospel Choir: Paul Simon’s Graceland

- November 20, 2019

There are some golden moments that arise out of reviewing a performance for which you have little or no knowledge or experience and this was one of them. The LAGP are an extraordinary ensemble of musicians who took the Dome by storm, bringing a stonking great wave of musical love to an audience who seemed at a glance to be truly diverse. Whatever the reason for attending I doubt anyone left the hall not feeling enlivened by the joy and passion with which they delivered their two sets.

In the first half they gave us material from their 2019 release  Mercy, and it was beautiful, fine playing, stunning harmonies and searingly good solos. And as impressive as all this was, the whole was lifted a further level by some energetic  choreography that made my face ache from smiling.

Much as we loved all this I guess that the bulk of the audience had come along to hear Paul Simon’s iconic recording and was much relived when the presenter came on the stage to explain that this was no cover band but would be their interpretation of the album. I sighed with relief and from those very first bars that are embedded in my brain I realised that I was in for a real treat.

Let’s start with the musicians, two guitars, two keyboards, percussion, drums, trumpet and sax, all laying down the bedrock of the songs, recognisable chord structures, rhythms and riffs, all comfortingly familiar but by no means a pastiche. Then layered over the top the voices, the spirit of those song made real in their own way beautiful ensemble singing, complex rhythms and harmonies, really stunning stuff. And riding the crest of this wave of joy simply sensational solo voices. I tapped my foot and swayed in my seat and wallowed in the rich sounds and vibrant spectacle of their choreography and vivid costumes. It was music that made you want to dance and hug people. I really hope that I can experience this stunning sound again very soon.

15 November

Brighton Dome

Andrew Kay

Rating: ★★★★★

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