Missy Lorelei reviews another performance from Celtic Connections.
Orchestra Baobab don’t so much command the audience’s attention as beat it into submission.
The ten-piece Senegalese band, who have a combined age of over six hundred (that’s older than Charlie Watts!), are a dapper bunch, and age has not dimmed them- there is no denying the fire and passion infusing their Afro-Cuban music: a breathless cocktail of dance and traditional sounds largely unchanged since their inception in 1970.
Rudy Gomis proves an effortless frontman- his voice is big enough to fill an auditorium unamplified with the presence to match; and when he is joined in three-part harmonies with the others it is breathtakingly beautiful. He is equalled by guitarist Barthelemy Attisso (notable also for being a part-time lawyer!), whose finger picking is choppy and textural. This, along with the solid drumming and two saxophones, gives Baobab their signature style.
All of which is fine but for one thing: the almost interminable jamming. At first, the guitar workouts are hugely enjoyable, showcasing Attisso’s impressive scope. Half an hour later, it becomes a tad tiresome, like being stuck sober at a party you’d rather avoid, cornered by a singing drunk.
‘Coumba’ is for that reason a highlight- one of the more stripped-back tunes in the set. Lovely and languid, it is apparent that more like this would have been a welcome addition.
Sometimes, less really is more.