Saturday, 11 June 2016

Mbongwana Star / Estère - Live at Hall 2, The Sage, Gateshead [11th June 2016]

[2016.06.11] Tom Hollingworth, for NARC Magazine.

Quickly appearing behind her dashboard of electronics, Estère confidently took the early birds in Hall 2 straight to the heart of her funk; a jam built with bold, brassy and frivolous sounds from her MPC. Splashed in colourful lights, her unabashed and expressive dance moves whipped her pop around the room, flipping speculators over into new-found appreciators.

From hearing some of their From Kinshasa album prior to this performance, you would be forgiven for not expecting such a rock spirit to Mbongwana Star’s show, but constantly sourcing attention amongst the complex polyrhythms was Liam Farrell’s (Doctor L) guitar: possibly the warmest distortion tones I have heard emerge from an SG.

Dressed in varieties of black clothing, sporting leathers (and in one case, a cheeky green wig) the quintet occupied a certain appreciation for ‘rock-band’ sensibilities, but paralleled that inspiration with songs made fluid through Afro-folk harmonies and rhythms. Dance was the only disposition possible by the third song in, streaming from the five distinct personalities on the stage, out to the venue floor where a wave of happy, smiling movers and shakers could not be broken from the spell. C’est bon? Theo Nzonza checked between songs. C’est tres bien! said the brow-sweat and sore soles at the close.

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