As an outsider in London sometimes I forget quite how diverse its population is, which I know the majority of people are and that’s kinda the point. What I hadn’t really thought about is the subsequent affect on the city’s music scene which can happily host a two-day festival of French music at Cargo with an enraptured and good-sized audience in attendance.
Titi Robin kick-off in the opening night in the shape of an accordion player, Titi Robin himself playing every string from mandolin to guitar, and his ab-fab drummer. The ponytailed percussionist spends the hour-long set thumping the box he’s sitting on, attacking the skins with his elbows, kneading the bongos – it feels like a struggle and a fight with the instrument but sounds like the opposite. It’s a sight to behold and one that is only distracted from by the perfect interplay between the gypsy-ish twinges of the guitar and accordion’s mini-duel (literally, at one point they mimics each other’s tones and try to better them).
Enter singer Maria into the fray, full of evangelical charm (she crosses herself on alighting the stage), imploring the listener (unfortunately ShadowPlay is in the ten per cent in attendance who do not understand her words) and dancing. But not just swaying, it’s stylised, full speed and, as she chases her hands across the stage back and forth, undeniably Indian-influenced. An unexpected wonder.
Soha may already be known to you. Savvy, chique, sexy and soulful she’s a PR man’s dream, her sultry tones offering nothing if not passion, verve and, most importantly, a versatility that’s astonishing. One minute she’s relaxing into her smooth tones, pulling the audience, literally, forward with her brown eyes. The next she’s skanking, full of reggae empowerment, putting hands in the air and shouting “the show is for you, enjoy”. An incredible spectacle that breaks far beyond the clumsy, patronising term of ‘world music’ which I doubt will be shaken off for some years to come. Luckily, neither will Soha.
Anyway, I don’t usually do this, but don’t just take my words for it listen here.
You can thank me later…