ayo - live show

last night ayo and her three piece band performed at the rivoli - sublime. half nigerian, half gypsy, ayo has a stunning voice, high and sweet with a rough tone, soft but strong, something sounds like nomad, like hard times that have befallen such beauty, like tragic heartbreak. ayo beat that guitar as hard as she strummed it, maintaining eye contact with her band mates, the four jammed away listening to each other create pauses and patterns spontaneous, harmonious, continuous...

she is such a warm pretty presence with her bright bronze shine in a turquoise t shirt dress and grey vintage leather boots - no accessories - she leapt down into the crowd midway through the encore and danceddanceddanced and her hips and quick pace belied her west african origins and she grinned madly, held hands with the audience and gave us her last tired final everything so that we could remember this special show, her first appearance in toronto.

as they jammed without end, she explained the tradition of twenty five minute songs to the crowd... i can't speak highly enough about this concept. the african band has a few things on the western band - stamina, instrumental freedom, and of course rhythms. Take for example, the Egypt 80 (originally played with Fela Kuti, now play with his son Seun, you can see them next Tuesday 8pm Harboufront - FREE show) these fellas could play for hours with a repetoire of 30min+ tracks; literally, concerts go all night. Note that this is in part because no self respecting artist would send their loyal fans out into the dark Lagos night. Hence concerts must last until sunrise, effectively for the crowd's sake, to ensure their safe return home (they live to tell the tale i suppose.) but also because we love the beat and so we follow the beat, we do not lead it, we don't push or prod or stop short, we follow where she takes us and we are patient because we know there will be a surreal climax and a sweet come-down.

to undestand what i mean by instrumental freedom one must listen to Salif Keita, Habib Koite, Baaba Mal - these musicians are not bound by any sound structures, guitars can play parts of melodies and harmonies that might be sung or beat on a drum - no matter - all instruments make all sounds and all sounds mesh and make music.

rhythm - nuff said. what can result in the continent where the beat began? but the best of the best of the bestbestbest. The range is astounding, from addis to abidjan to kinshasa to jo'burg to cairo to madagascar to cape verde to darfur to desert to coast to mountaintop and back again -endless different paces, beats, breakdowns, cadences, tones.... with every people in every place there is a sound they make... this sound is different and definite and undisguised... it is shocking and fast or haunting and slow or jarring and both.

the ayo show was fantastic. she is as she says, from everywhere. a beauty. take a listen, something will take you away.

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