Monday, June 01, 2009

Amadou and Miriam with Gilmour

Of course, one can never refuse any opportunity to see Pink Floyd, and now with the sad demise of Richard Wright, the next best thing is seeing the great Dave Gilmour. He was billed as supporting Amadou and Miriam at a charity gig to support Crisis, the homeless support charity. Tickets were not cheap - 30 quid including all the usual suspect booking fees, but at least a portion of it was going to charity.

The interesting Union Chapel venue in Islington

Who are Amadou and Miriam? A musical duo from Mali, they met in a blind institute, found a shared love of music, and started off making a name for themselves with Malian blues in Africa and France. They have come to prominence here since Manu Chao produced an album of theirs in the early ‘00s. The last few years they’ve been doing many of the big festivals, and this year they’re going to Glastonbury. Check them out on Spotify, they’re marvellous.

The gig was at a secret venue, announced the day before via text, which turned out to be the Union Chapel in Islington. Not sure what the point of keeping it secret was, as it was sold out a week beforehand at least. Think it's to make the point that homeless don't know where they'll be in 24 hours. Anyway, I've been to the Union Chapel before, but this time the acoustics seemed much worse than before. Perhaps the different kind of music, or bad set up? Anyway, really muddled sound in what is a quite interesting space.

After warm up gigs from Catherine AD then Paul Webb and Stephane Girard, neither of which particularly impressed me, and hence allowing time to sample the bottled ale upstairs at the bar, it was time. The crowd, many of which were clearly only here for Gilmour, were buzzing.

It wasn't obvious beforehand how the mix would work - but it ended up being Gilmour supporting Amadou and Miriam, who played several songs I recognised, including from "Dimanche A Bamako" and their latest album "Welcome to Mali", which was available for sale in the foyer. Sadly no chance for autographs - Gilmour is known for not doing them due to people just putting the signed items on eBay. Sad. Anyway, the gig was very much Amadou and Miriam's gig, but with Gilmour just throwing in occasional flashes of genius guitar. Wonderful.

I didn't realise until reading the reviews afterwards, but one of the songs was Gilmour's - No Way (really.. as in that was the name of the song!). Amadou and Mariam did the vocals, which is what put me off the scent! Amadou played away on his gold guitar, and at one stage had a jam with Gilmour which was fantastic - check the Youtube clip below. A crazy chap with a drum charged about the stage, often heading up to face Gilmour and bash away! After a good length set, well over an hour, the received a standing ovation which brought them back on stage for an encore. Hurrah!

I was very pleased post-gig to find lots of footage on Youtube (despite my irritation at people holding up cameras at the actual gig, cough!). If you want a flavour of the night, watch this embedded clip, it really is brilliant, despite non-perfect sound. If you want more, just search for "gilmour union chapel" on Youtube, or try the link below to a playlist of clips.

Amadou and Gilmour jamming together on Youtube:

Click here for a playlist with several clips from the performance.

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