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Grace Barbe

DJ Charlie Bucket/Beleza /Boom! Bap! Pow!

Fly By Night Musician’s Club

Saturday, November 2, 2013

It is said that talent can come from any corner in the world. Hailing from the archipelagos of the Seychelles, Grace Barbe, delivers a fusion of rock, African beats, Latin rhythms and Seychellois alchemy that resulted in a night of thumping beats, rich percussions, melodiously poetic lyrics, that could, and did, drive crowds into a frenzy of dancing.

The mood for the night was set by DJ Charlie Bucket, laying down records from West Africa and the Caribbean, doling out the humid, tropical vibes. Forty-five minutes of non-stop music heavy with drumbeats that made the venue feel like a scene straight out of Live And Let Die.

Beleza, a group of Brazilian percussion enthusiasts, snaked their way into the middle of the room, and delivered a rousing performance, gradually picking up in tempo.

After them came Boom! Bap! Pow! This five piece band delivered tunes that are best described as a hybrid between country and jazz, with their sound harking back to the rock ‘n’ roll of the ‘50s – the sultry, country-accented vocals evoked a vibe that wouldn’t be out of place in the saloons of the American Mid-West. They lived up to the name of their band with such a flashy, expressive, and most importantly, loud, performance, with a dash of vintage flair.

Beleza came in a second time, now with additional Samba dancers.

At around thirty past ten, the headline act emerged. Grace Barbe, with her band Afro-Kreol, played songs from her new album Welele! Her set was downright amazing- the crowd responded in agreement with vigorous, sensuous dancing. Throughout an hour and fifteen minutes of non-stop vibrant rhythms flowing between high and low tempo, yet a maintaining smooth transmission from song to song. Despite a genre more known for its low fidelity aesthetics, the technical quality of Grace Barbe’s set is rather good – the vocals are loud, clean and not clashing with the riffs, and three different percussion instruments (hand drums, drum kit, and triangle) conjure a really rich beat. Even though the lyrics are in French and Creole, it didn’t matter at all- the percussions and the guitar riffs reminiscent of the good old days of rock carried the night.

The crowd, which is normally a passive, appreciative being, radically mutated into a different beast for the night, actively dancing away with absolute abandon – all of them just there to listen to the music, without holding any pretentions.

_ Clayton Lin

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