A treat from Mali on Monday, seeing Amadou & Mariam live in the Melkweg. For well over two decades this blind couple of musicians have blended traditional Malian and Western pop music into an irresistibly catchy mix, led by Amadou's terrific guitar and Mariam's soaring vocals.
Live they traded in the bluesy and often wistful undertone of their albums, notably 'Dimanche a Bamako' (2005), for a more danceable sound that was somewhat heavy on the beats. But while they kept most songs brief, a few times they allowed themselves extended jams with some showoff percussion and oldschool guitar soloing. (Back in the '80s Amadou in fact started as a guitarist in Les Ambassadeurs, itself an offshoot from the legendary Super Rail Band, which produced some of Africa's finest guitar players.)