It’s hard not to think that the sun came out specifically for this festival of dreamers and colour fiends. Forecast to be grey and dreary, the weekend was instead warm and bright, echoing Shambala’s vibe with the sun reflecting brilliantly off the endless sparkles that clothed the punters.
As always, the festival offered a veritable smorgasbord of musical highlights; the massive names are passed over in favour of lesser-known artists that showcase the best in live music. This year’s line-up was dominated by African artists. Vaudou Game – led by Togolese singer and guitarist Peter Solo – brought their psychedelic, voodoo-influenced Afrobeat to the main stage. The ever-cool Solo got the modest crowd dancing to his grooves on the Friday; it was perhaps too early in the weekend to attract the crowds they deserved. Saturday’s crowds, however, were far better prepared for a boogie when Jupiter & Okwess took the stage. The Congolese band performed tracks from their latest album, Kin Sonic. Tracks that fell slightly flat on CD were positively electric live.
Sunday unfortunately saw a few technical hiccups; Tanzania’s Msafiri Zawose was due to showcase the electro fusions of his new album (see p18), but instead was left with a mostly acoustic set after sound desk difficulties, and shortly after, Manchester-based Honeyfeet lost power halfway through their set, leading to a stampede of punters onstage and a hilariously cantankerous lead singer, Ríoghnach Connolly. Thankfully this was all sorted before an absolutely killer set from Malian matriarch, Oumou Sangaré, who closed the main stage. A force to be reckoned with, she had the crowd hanging on her every note. They may have been tired after a joyously hedonistic weekend, but Oumou kept the party going strong until the end.
This review originally appeared in Songlines #132 (Nov 2017) p84. Download a pdf here.