Page 1 of 3

sunday at the barbican

PostPosted: Fri May 25, 2007 3:20 pm
by dave o
we get too little chance to hear charlie on air these days.

this is what's happening on sunday afternoon at the barbican (shame k'naan can't play) -

3.00–5.30pm: World Music labs
(Freestage) including:

3.00-3.30pm Charlie Gillett in conversation with European World Music reporters Francis Gay and Saskia Bender .

3.30-4.00pm Charlie Gillett in conversation with this year's winner Maurice el Medioni.

4.00-4.15pm Charlie Gillett in conversation with this year's winner Mahmoud Ahmed.

4.15-5.30pm Gilles Peterson and Charlie Gillett in 'DJ ping-pong' reflecting on 20 years of world music and their different DJ styles while playing their favourite records. Includes A Live Set from La Xula.

the live radio 3 coverage doesn't start till 6.00 - why can't they record all the charlie stuff on the freestage and play it out later?

PostPosted: Sun May 27, 2007 5:44 pm
by Dayna
I sure wish I could have heard this.

I can find Radio 3 & it works but I don't understand the times of it.They said something about it being on tomorrow too. I don't understand it though.

PostPosted: Sun May 27, 2007 7:59 pm
by Des
I'd like to be one of the first to congratulate K'naan on the impending birth of his child.

I would also like to congratulate Bristol Rovers on their promotion to the first division.

PostPosted: Sun May 27, 2007 8:26 pm
by Des
Just listening to and watching Ghada Shbeir - she is fantastic and her musicians are fabulous.

PostPosted: Sun May 27, 2007 10:28 pm
by John Bainbridge
Mahmoud Ahmed's fantastic. The band's so tight, loud, and funky. I was at the awards a few years ago in Gateshead, to see Khaled, but just watching this on the internet's even better.

What a shame Radio 3 don't have messageboards any more, so we can't tell them how well they've done.

PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2007 12:04 am
by Des
Yep - the mighty Mahmoud was great and obviously really enjoying himself. A very enjoyable concert.

PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2007 12:55 am
by Adam Blake
Nice to see you, Charlie, however briefly. Hope this means you're feeling better physically.

PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2007 10:31 am
by Jamie Renton
Mahmoud Ahmed & Ghada Shbeir were the highpoints for me. I've wanted to see Ahmed for a decade now & keep missing him, he was well worth the wait. His band are funky & tight, an Ethiopian Booker T & MGs (Mahmoud A & the AGs?) & the man himself reminds me of Jackie Wilson or General Johnson (all those trills & vocal gymnastics).

Ghada & her band were a whole other thing. Her voice, particularly on the slow marwaal, had the power to move. What amazed me were her musicians, when they took it in turn to solo (often an excuse to go & find the bar), every one of them impressed. Each Awards concert should provide a new discovery: last year for me it was Sain Zahoor, this year it was Ghada.

In all I thought the longer sets worked well & although the Barbican doesn't have the atmosphere of the Brixton Acadamy, I was quite happy to sit up in the gods & let the music flow over me. It was all good: I love Maurice El Medioni, although I love him best when he's swinging with a small band, rather than just a drummer as he had here. Gotan ... started well ... drifted a bit ... didn't hit me like they did in the tent at WOMAD last year.

I was only sorry that I missed Charlie's live afternoon session (supervising a group of 11 year olds zapping each other with Quasar guns :-D) Was anyone from the Forum there? How was it? How were Laxula?

PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2007 10:45 am
by Quintin
Stuck up here in the sticks I was only able to listen to the performances on the radio but I would agree with the general concensus that Mahmoud Ahmed stole the show and certainly sounded far more on form than when I last saw him at the South Bank 18 months ago.

What I can't understand though is why no one has recorded him since the mid-70s. He and his band won this award on the strength of their live performances since 2005, deservedly so in my opinion but it really is a crying shame that aside from the BBC putting this show (and his astonishing 2005 WOMAD performance) on line, his music will never be heard by a wider audience.

My pennies worth anyway...........


PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2007 10:45 am
by Con Murphy
Yes, Ghada Shbeir was the highlight for me as well. 25 quid was far too steep a price for me to attend, but the webcast was a worthy alternative with the excellent fill-in pieces marshalled smoothly by Andrew McGregor. It all seemed to pass off far less chaotically than last year. However, it would be great to see the ceremony return to Brixton or a similar stand-up venue next year. There was something of the atmosphere of an airport terminal about some of the audience visuals last night, I thought. How did it feel for those actually there?

PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2007 11:52 am
by howard male
Just filed this the Independent, so here's my take on the things - as who knows when it'll appear there.

The trouble with this kind of review is the trap of it just turning into a list, with so few words available to spend on each artist. But I thought I'd try to hinge it all on the K'naan-sized hole in the middle of the concert but without being too negative. But you should be able to tell that Marmoud was my high point and Gotan Project definitely a mind-numbing low point.
And in answer to Jamie's question - LuXula played two short sets and they were blinding. Effortlessly adapting their sound for the larger space. It continues to bug me that they still seem to be being ignored by record comanies. If there is any justice in this world (music business) they'll be in the main hall next year as they were my overall highlight. But don't think there's much chance of that.

The rest of Charlie's afternoon session was fine, with the only problem being it could have been louder. For some reason only when Giles Peterson joined him, for a way too short ping-pong session, did the volume get turned up to a reasonable level. For the rest of the time it was often a case of straining to hear what was being said above the hubbub of conversation from those at the back - people can be so rude!

Awards for World Music 2007 - The Barbican

It's a shame that Somali rapper K'naan did the right thing and stayed at home in Canada for the birth of his second child. What a difference he would have made to an evening which didn't really ignite until the last act. The winner of the best newcomer award, with his powerhouse of a little band and his own force-of-nature presence and energy, would have given proceedings a bit of much needed contemporary edge and resonance.

That's not to say there wasn't plenty of exquisite playing on show. India's Debashish Bhattacharya, played dreamy ragas on three home-made guitars, the most impressive a 22 string monster, the smallest, no bigger than a violin. But he made each sing like a chamber orchestra, teasing out cascades of notes which hung in the air like musical question marks.

Then there was the Middle East and North African winner, Ghada Shbeir, whose rich, warm voice effortlessly ascending and descending melancholy yet passionate Arabic and Andalusian melodies accompanied by her immaculate 5-piece acoustic band.

But wonderful as these acts were in an virtuoso sense, they were never going to lift an event which was already suffering from a move from the hipper, unseated Brixton Academy where it was held last year, to the more formal, seated Barbican this year. But we almost reached the 21st Century with one-time best newcomers (2003) Gotan Project, who this year won the Club Global catagory and must now be the most famous world music band on the planet. But the truth is, they sound a little tired these days. Or maybe we're just a little tired of the fact their music has become inescapable. But those plodding programmed club beats (which so marred their second album) don't help, dragging everything down, despite the best efforts of a ballsy female string section and some thumping piano.

So that left two acts to save the day. The 79 year old Jewish Algerian pianist Maurice el Medioni could certainly swing, and his gorgeous, rolling, and apparently effortless style was nicely echoed by his percussionist who had an equally light touch. But still the audience, though moved, remained physically unmoved.

A short video of a live performance made early last year was sadly all we got of best album of the year winner, the late great Ali Farka Toure, but it was another great African who saved the night.

Ethiopia's Mahmoud Ahmed, like last year's discovery Konono No 1, has been doing what he does for decades, but the world music industry's only just found out about it. In fact his fame is based on songs recorded in the 70s. But this turned out to be irrelevant. Mahmoud accepted his award - thanked God and the BBC - and kicked the party into gear. The bass circled, the saxes riffed, and Mahmoud's vibrato-heavy voice settled somewhere between crooning and pleading. His sultry, serpentine funk, still sounding fresh and relevant, unwound, as the audience got to their feet to demanded two encores.

PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2007 12:27 pm
by Ian A.
howard male wrote:Ethiopia's Mahmoud Ahmed, like last year's discovery Konono No 1, has been doing what he does for decades, but the world music industry's only just found out about it.

Mahmoud's been well known to the "world music industry" for many years, ever since his Ere Mela Mela album was released here in the '80s and of course through the Ethiopiques series which is widely feted and available. If it wasn't for the "industry", Mahmoud wouldn't be playing here at all.

It's not the "world music industry" that's preventing him from getting a new album out - try asking his mentor Francis Falceto (the man behind the Ethiopioques series) why Mahmoud hasn't made a new album and his eyes roll skyward. It's something to do with persuading the artist there's a need for it. But of course it's much easier to blame the "industry".

And Francis is another of those unrecognised 'world shakers' who do so much behind the scenes in the much maligned 'industry', like Yusuf Mahmoud and Hildegard Kiel who deservedly got their award last night for their fabulous, unstinting, beneficial work in Zanzibar. Shame you didn't mention that in your review - but then it's always much easier to knock things than give credit, eh?

PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2007 12:43 pm
by howard male
Ian A wrote -

Shame you didn't mention that in your review - but then it's always much easier to knock things than give credit, eh?

Look, Ian. I feel I was very fair and positive overall in my review (i gave it 4 stars.) It's just not possible to get bogged down in too many of the finer details when you've only got 500 words to cover 6 artists.

Of course I know that Francis Falceto's been fighting Mahmoud's corner for ages. My expression 'world music industry' was a necessary shorthand for the awards themselves - which, after all, are the bridge to a slightly wider audience who might not have been aware of Mahmoud before. If you want to take the term 'world music industry' personally then that's your problem.

I have no interest in 'knocking things' as you put it. I only got into this business to support it. But you lose credibility if you simply tow the party line all the time - both credibility for 'the industry' and as a critic.

I've never once chosen to review a CD or concert in order to put a downer on it. So, no, I don't find it easier to knock an artist, I find it a lot harder.

Sunday Ping Pong etc

PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2007 2:04 pm
by Peter Williams
I was sorry to miss Sunday too, particularly as it would have been a rare opportunity to recreate the much-missed Saturday evening BBC Radio London ping-pong experience. Is there any chance of a recording of Sunday's proceedings finding their way on to the Sound of the World site or the BBC one?


PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2007 4:51 pm
by Charlie
Ian A. wrote:but then it's always much easier to knock things than give credit, eh?

I can't understand this punch in the stomach, Ian - I'm all for lively interchanges, but this remark has the feel of somebody looking for a fight? What's that all about? I thought Howard gave a fair account of the proceedings, and his wondering why there has been no new album from Mahmoud was reasonable, given that he is not privy to Mahmoud's own reservations.

I can sympathise with Mahmoud - it's a bit like bands who don't want to form reunions and go on tour again. He may have written his best songs at a time when his personal life was uncertain, when he was going through the anguish of unrequited love, etc, and now no feels longer driven to compose new ones. He could do a live one of the old songs that he miraculously still sings so well, but the recordings might not match the originals. As we still have them available, why should he be expected to add to the catalogue with a record that might demean it? Like a poker player with three kings in his hand, he does well to stick.