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Angelique Kidjo delivers sensational show for Perth Festival

Angelique Kidjo | Perth Concert Hall | 29 February 2024 | ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 

Angelique Kidjo returned to Perth this week for the first time in decades, a fact she acknowledged on stage noting that her children who were youngster the last time she was here are now fully grown adults.

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In the intervening years the Beninese French world music star has branched out and recorded a diverse range of material from Afro-pop, to jazz, gospel, and Latin, as well as diving into the world of hip-hop and neo-classical.

TIME magazine has declared her one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World, and she’s collaborated with everyone from Bono to Philip Glass and Carlos Santana, she’s teamed up with Sting, Ziggy Marley and Burna Boy to name just a few.

Having released Mother Nature, her eighteenth solo album in 2021, Kidjo had no shortage of material to draw from, and her show took in many different elements from across her long and acclaimed career.

Dressed in a long pink dress and head wrap, matched with bold pink lipstick and eye makeup, Kidjo’s arrival on stage made an impression. Within a few numbers the headdress was discarded, the singer was also showing that even though she’s in her early 60s she’s still got the dance moves to go with the grooves.

She opened the show with her rendition of Talking Heads CrossEyed and Painless. The New York new-wave band’s 1980 album Reman in Light drew inspiration from African rhythms and artists like Fela Kuti. In 2018 Kidjo recorded her version of the entire album taking it back to its inspirational beginning – Africa. Later in the show she launched into the very recognisable One in a Lifetime. 

Next audiences got a selection of tracks from the artist’s most recent album including Africa – One of a Kind, Take It or Leave It and Do Yourself. The singer’s powerful vocals ringing out across the Perth Concert Hall.

The uplifting sing-along of Agolo must have transported a large number of the audience back to their youth in the mid-90s when the track was on high rotation on Triple J. The song is a lost classic.

Kidjo returned to newer material with Meant for Me, Choose Love and Free and Equal, the singer impressively had the audience on all three levels of the venue on their feet, clapping, dancing and singing along.  

Kidjo about how she wrote the track Afirika in the lead up to the millennium, a time when people were accessing the future. To perform the song, she brought out local performer Maatakitj and his backing band which includes Della Rae Morrison and Kylie Bracknell on vocals. A choir of young children also came out on to the stage for the penultimate number.

The show’s crescendo came with a vibrant rendition of Pata Pata, the signature song of Miriam Makeba which Kidjo re-recorded for UNICEF in 2020 to help spread awareness about Covid-19.

From her audience interaction to her impressive dance moves, and soaring vocals, Angelique Kidjo and her band, and collaborators were stunning.

The encore came quickly with a medley of some of Kidjo’s biggest hits including We We, Batonga and Adouma. The final farewell came with Flying High, which is how Angelique Kidjo left her audience as they headed out into the warm night on the last day of summer.

Graeme Watson, images Cam Campbell.  

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