TO Jazz Review: Angelique Kidjo, July 1, Toronto Star Stage

TorontoAngelique Kidjo played the Toronto Star Stage during Canada Day to an audience that started the evening neatly sitting in their seats and ended it dancing on the stage. The music that she brought blended a number of African styles with a powerful and soulful voice. It was evident from the get go that Angelique wanted people to have fun and dance. She told us so at the very beginning of the show: it was OK to sit right now, but she wanted people to dance, and soon! The crowd was happy to get into the groove. Angelique’s genuine disposition and positive energy was infectious.

Near the end of the set, Angelique invited crowd members to join her on the stage for a big ol’ dance party. There was a real collectivism that was evident as she invited people to not only listen, but actively participate in her music. Her voice is basically flawless, and her band hit all the right notes to provide the right kind of propulsion for the show. Oh, and she can dance something fierce. This was clear during the big drummer circle dance off near the end of the set.

In between songs, Angelique spent some time imparting some of her wisdom and politics. On the one hand, it was very cool to hear Angelique talk about the importance of positivity in the face of adversity and life’s outrageous fortunes. She talked about how precious life is, and how one person can make a difference. On the other hand, the talking bits did seem to happen quite frequently and extend for some time. By the time the music started up again, the crowd needed ramp up time to find their respective grooves. Although the Canada Day crowd was a little on the sparse side, what they didn’t have in numbers they certainly made up for in energy.

The crowd was more than willing to forgive the talky start stops. Angelique is a gift performer, has smart things to say, funny stories to tell, and provides a positivity that you can’t help but get drawn into.

Posted on by Mark in Concerts, Toronto Jazz Festival