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PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2015 1:01 am
by Garth Cartwright
A special gig tonight with two seminal black British bands from the 70s performing together. I've never seen either before and only really know Osibisa via Sunshine Day and a few other tunes. I recall seeing their LPs as a kid and wondering what they sounded like - "African music? Weird!" Did Charlie ever champion them? I'm guessing that alongside Manu Dibango they were the first band to put African rhythms into the UK pop-rock charts.

Osibisa were bigger back then but are opening tonight, I'm guessing as they have kept playing they have less cult status, while Cymande have just reformed after 39 years apart (and have been sampled lots so very cool). But it's Osibisa who rule: wonderful performance! The 8-piece band play superbly together, still creating that wonderful blend of funk and soul and West African rhythms. They're incredibly tight, have great vibe and stage presence and make me want to see them again - hopefully in the sunshine with people dancing!

Cymande have great songs and are fine players - drummer Sam Kelly is a veteran of Adam and Errol's band (Adam, have i ever seen Sam with you guys?) but did their first gig in 39 years last September and have not performed often since (it seems). Where Osibisa had a wonderful sound mix Cymande are very boomy, seemingly not knowing what levels the instruments should be mic'ed at (drums too loud, horns too low, vocals often intelligible). And while there are nice moments they fade quickly when compared to Osibisa. Cymande play a few tunes off a forthcoming album - mostly it seems songs they intended to record in 1975 so they sound decent enough - and the crowd is very supportive (almost sold out Barbican on a Tuesday night - many an old soul boy has come out) but need a lot of road work before they tackle venues the size of the Barbican again.Nice use of old photos of Brixton, Notting Hill and various black music record shops as a backdrop!

Re: Osibisa-Cymande@Barbican

PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2015 8:52 am
by Jamie Renton
Thanks for this review Garth.

Sounds like a case of "fine double bill/wrong venue"

Did anyone dance?

Re: Osibisa-Cymande@Barbican

PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2015 10:08 am
by Rob Hall
Osibisa made a big impact on me when I saw them on their first UK tour:


Good to hear they're still playing with a smile.

Re: Osibisa-Cymande@Barbican

PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2015 10:47 am
by Garth Cartwright
Nice one, Rob. They look their age - and from looking at Wikipedia it appears the drummer is the son of one of the founder members and a couple of members have died - but they sounded magnificent, still had that aura of joy you mention. Beautiful blend of instrumental interplay - 2 guitars and keys and 2 horns all meshing superbly, great harmonies, excellent percussion. One helluva live band. Leon and i looked at one another when they finished and both said "Cymande will have to be really good to top that!" Well, they couldn't but I'm still pleased I saw them.

Jamie, people were dancing for Cymande. The audience - which was very SOTW ie blokes from 40s to 60s, some with wives/gfs along - gave them a lot of love. A bit more than they really deserved as their sound mix was poor while Osibisa's had been excellent.

Re: Osibisa-Cymande@Barbican

PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2015 12:00 pm
by Adam Blake
Garth Cartwright wrote:- drummer Sam Kelly is a veteran of Adam and Errol's band (Adam, have i ever seen Sam with you guys?)

Oh, I'm sure you must have done at some time.

Re: Osibisa-Cymande@Barbican

PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2015 2:35 pm
by Leon Parker
Osibisa had their own sound engineer which makes all the difference. I am listening to the 1977 live album which is pretty much the same set last night they included "I Feel Pata Pata" 1980. I was impressed with the keyboard player Emmanuel Rentzos who was looking cool and has a really good voice perhaps a bit more singing from him.

As for Cymande great to see but I knew before the gig that doing new material is one way make me pull out my mobile phone to see my new notices. The visual backdrop to the group, using band photographs also paying homage to vinyl and record shops Dub Vendor, Desmonds Hip City etc... a nice touch. All London based images but then you get Jill Hanson of Coventry and one of my bag images of Disc Jockey Hastings. Nice to see my bag backing Cymande!