A July 21 at FINA : Chipo Nyambiya, AfirkA, Sidi Wacho

by Rédaction PAN M 360

The PAN M 360 team has a strong presence at the Festival international Nuits d’Afrique (FINA), with our contributors reporting daily on what they’ve seen and heard at the concerts presented in Montreal until July 23.

Chipo Nyambiya Makes the Crowd Dance

Chipo Nyambiya’s performance was part of the Femmes du monde series at the Festival international Nuits d’Afrique. The singer, originally from Zimbabwe, is also a master of the mbira, a thumb piano which has been declared a UNESCO intangible cultural heritage. We would have liked to hear more of this mesmerizing instrument, but it only made an appearance in two songs.

Despite this, Chipo Nyambiya’s performance was remarkable. Her vocal range is astonishing, and she demonstrated her great vocal mastery throughout her set. The musicians who accompanied her were also of the highest quality. A saxophonist took solos with confidence, filling the crowd’s ears with a rich, powerful sound. A percussionist sometimes joined Chipo Nyambiya at center stage to dance with her. Not only dancing but also jumping and twirling in the air, in the confined space of the Loto-Québec stage. The audience was treated to an energetic concert of high musical quality.

Elena Mandolini

AfirkA, or The Party That Never Ends

Photo credit : Marc Lachovsky

There was a feverish energy in front of the TD – Radio-Canada stage, just a few minutes before AfrikA took to the stage. The group won the Afropop prize in this year’s Syli d’or de la musique du monde competition, an initiative of Productions Nuits d’Afrique. Fans of all ages were ready to welcome the musicians, some waving Algerian flags for the occasion. The opening track was a rock version of the music from the film Pirates of the Caribbean. At the end of this introduction, the singer took to the stage, much to the delight of the crowd. He promised us an unforgettable evening, and that promise was kept.

AfirkA performed songs in Arabic, which the audience knew very well. The audience sang, danced and jumped relentlessly throughout the performance, accompanied by the singer’s warm voice. He demonstrated impeccable vocal technique, impressing us with melismas of impressive length, all in one breath. The musicians were also in top form, flashing smiles at each other and the crowd. All delivered a high-calibre performance, fully justifying the award they received this year.

Elena Mandolini

Sidi Wacho’s Rock Energy

The programming team at the Festival International Nuits d’Afrique had the right idea of getting Sidi Wacho the Friday night slot at the headlining venue. With high expectations, this unique Franco-Chilean-Algerian band brought the house down in front of an absolutely packed crowd at the TD-Radio Canada Stage.

The band played through an electric set of originals that fuse French hip-hop with traditional Latin styles like salsa and cumbia and some Maghrebian and Balkan flavours for good measure. But what is especially remarkable about this group is the stadium rock energy they bring from the early 2000s.

Lead vocalists, French-Algerian Saïdou and Chilean Juanito Ayala commanded the stage with their dynamic presence and compelling vocal delivery. They effortlessly switched between rapping and singing, maintaining a high level of energy and getting the crowd to feel it throughout the entire set.  In fact, it was the first time during my time at the festival that I witnessed something close to a mosh pit emerge! Still, it was not all a party, for Sidi Wacho’s music is just as much a means to raise awareness and speak truth to power but they show that you can have a damn good time while doing it.

Varun Swarup

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