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Angelique Kidjo at Lisner

Saturday May 19, 2007

kidjo_blackwhite.jpgThe Washington Post 5/19/07:  Okay, okay -- so the latest album of Beninese Afro-pop sensation Angelique Kidjo has just been released by Starbucks, of all people, and will be marketed alongside Orange Crème Frappuccinos, Caramel Macchiatos and other froth for the summer. Does it matter? Kidjo has always been a crowd-pleaser, and "Djin Djin," with its infectious dance rhythms, catchy melodies and high-profile guest artists (Alicia Keys and Peter Gabriel, to name two) is, for the most part, a stunning new recording.

But Kidjo's full-bodied music really needs to be heard live, as she proved Thursday night at Lisner Auditorium. She's a born performer, and few singers have a voice like this -- rich as a double espresso and strong enough to topple small buildings. And backed up by a superb five- piece band, Kidjo roared, growled and purred her way through most of the songs off the new album, turning in a set that had the packed house dancing in the aisles.

Swiveling across the stage on pneumatic hips and delivering snippets of her generic "We are all one" philosophy, Kidjo had the audience in her hand from the get-go, alternating powerhouses such as "Mama Golo Papa" with sultry ballads such as "Salala." It was an eclectic mix -- Kidjo's music draws on influences from Brazilian samba to Cameroonian makossa -- but she made it all work, and even the few duds (a prettified "Gimme Shelter" and the top-40 "Iwoya") couldn't derail the rising intensity. And when Kidjo invited the audience up on stage to dance to the finale, "Tombo," the atmosphere was electric -- almost as if we really were all one, after all.

Posted on Saturday, May 19, 2007 at 10:12AM by Registered CommenterStephen Brookes | CommentsPost a Comment

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