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REVIEW: Ladysmith Black Mambazo

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Monday June 20, 2011

from Yorkshire Post

Review: Ladysmith Black Mambazo

By Sheena Hastings
June 17, 2011

At Leeds Town Hall

South African a capella vocal group Ladysmith Black Mambazo shot to worldwide fame in the 1980s, with their contribution to Paul Simon’s Grammy-award-winning Graceland album. They’ve gone on to earn their own Grammys and an affectionate and loyal following around the globe. The nine-man ensemble are a hard-grafting lot, who bring quirkiness and great good humour to their act.

Still led by their incredibly limber 69-year-old founder Thomas Shabalala and creating sounds as subtle, exciting and perfect as ever, the group – which includes four of Shabalala’s sons – sing as one, yet each manages to express his individuality.

This tour focuses on LBM’s latest album, Songs from a Zulu Farm, reaching back into the childhood of the founder and expressing stories of animals, fairytales and innocent games. But also in the mix are a fun Zulu version of Old Macdonald Had A Farm and of course Homeless, a nod to the breakthrough relationship with friend and mentor Paul Simon.

Added to the often mesmeric energy of the harmonies were high-kicking contests, a few break-dancing moves and thigh-slapping routines. Shabalala says he will, on retirement, hand over the reins to his son Thamsanqa, but there was no evidence here that dad’s powers are diminishing yet. Above all LBM leave their audience in awe of the power and variety of the human voice and its ability to conjure up sounds which evoke the beauty and atmosphere of a land far away. What a gift.

Read the article here