- CONCERT REVIEW: GLOBAL DIVAS V – By John Lappen @ Reuters/Hollywood Reporter, Mon Jul 12, 7:55 PM ET
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – The fourth installment of local PBS station KCRW’s World Festival summer series was a good one as the Global Divas V bill featured headliner Tracy Chapman and Malian singer Oumou Sangare.
Chapman has maintained a relatively low profile lately, as far as performing live, since her well-received “Let It Rain” tour last year, which supported her album of the same name released the year before. Her too-brief 75-minute set showed she still delivers the goods in a live setting when called upon to do so, much to the delight of the not-quite-full but still appreciative Bowl crowd.
As a singer-performer, Chapman has always seemed a bit uneasy and self-conscious in the spotlight. She’s one of those artists who possesses huge talent and isn’t afraid to share it with the world, but her method of doing so is very low-key, almost to the point of being introspective. She didn’t speak much while onstage, and when she did, it was mostly to whisper ghostly thank yous. The one time she did expound verbally for a few seconds was the preface to “Talkin’ Bout a Revolution” when she shyly asked the audience “if they knew there was an election coming up.” She then mentioned something about it being “time for a change.” The words got a brief cheer, but it all came off as a tad awkward because, of course, everybody knows this is an election year. And when isn’t it time for a change? That type of thinking has been espoused in music for years.
But she kept the concert focused on music, not politics, and what sweet music it was. She touched on her signature songs midway through the set. Backed by a drummer and a tasteful guitarist, “Fast Car,” the song that helped her win the Best New Artist Grammy in 1988, retained its overwhelming sense of poignancy and tentative aura of hope. “Give Me One Reason,” a huge chart success from 1996, also contained a questioning yet hopeful feeling in its lyrical message, a message that anyone who has ever been involved in a meaningful relationship could relate. The latter song was extended so the band could work out a bit; the slippery, bluesy Chris Isaak (news)-sounding guitar was the cherry on top of this musical sundae.
While always pegged as a contemporary folk singer, it was evident from this performance that Chapman draws beyond her music’s folk roots. On several numbers, she displayed sultry jazz leanings that weren’t overt but still obvious. If she ever really wanted to take a detour down a varied music path, she should consider making a blues album. Stylistically, it would fit in with a sound that is part Richie Havens, a dash of Taj Mahal, a touch of Joan Armatrading (news), but all Tracy Chapman.
Sangare is a star in her native West Africa, and from this night’s performance, it was easy to understand why. She is a dynamic live presence with strong, melodic vocals and charismatic flair. Her sound is based in Wassoulou, a modernized version of an ancient hunters’ musical tradition. Her mix of traditional African instruments with contemporary electric ones gives her sound a haunting mix of old and new. She’s an important artist whose lyrics address the concerns of women in modern West African society.
- GLOBAL DIVAS V – By Phil Gallo @ Variety.com, Sun Jul 11, 9:59 PM ET
Hollywood Bowl; 17,376 seats; $110 top
Presented by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Assn. Reviewed July 11, 2004.
Performers: Tracy Chapman, Oumou Sangare, Tania Libertdad.
Since the Hollywood Bowl inaugurated its world music series, the bookers have attempted to find just the right mix of global and diva and have generally produced mixed results. The fourth edition, however, hit every note correctly, from the glorious voices to a satisfying representation of folkloric music from around the globe.
Headliner Tracy Chapman delivered the most measured set, settling into her standard folk-blues groove that the half-full Bowl embraced with hushed attentiveness.
She opened with Mae Axton’s “Hound Dog” as a tribute to another diva, Big Mama Thornton, and proceeded with her grab bag of hits — “For My Lover,” ” Fast Car,” “Talking ‘Bout a Revolution” and “Give Me One Reason” — in an hourlong set.
Chapman, backed by guitarist Joe Gore and drummer Quinn, surprised the crowd with a sedate yet passionate version of Nirvana’s “Come as You Are”; her guitar playing, in line with her vocals, were both textbook displays of perfect intonation.
Oumou Sangare, a force as a social commentator in her native Mali as well as a tremendous singer, gave a dazzling and hypnotic perf that could have gone on for hours and never been less than mesmerizing. Backed by seven instrumentalists and two femme singer-dancer-percussionists, Sangare’s high-pitched and plaintive vocals wound through the trance-inducing polyrhythms, funk touches and the piercing string sounds from the bolon.
Sangare’s latest disc, the career overview “Oumou,” supplied the bulk of the material for the night, much of it danceable and winding. For her most American work, the ballad “Djorolen,” she shed she flutist, violinist and singers and worked in a Southern soul idiom; if ever there were an African singer capable of recalling the great soul music that came out of Muscle Shoals, Ala., and Memphis in the 1960s, Sangare’s the one.
Opener Tania Libertdad — a Peruvian who first came to fame singing the romantic and emotional ballads known as boleros — has been heavily cross-pollinating her music across South America with a few dips into Africa. Her music has come to be rhythmically dominated, with elements of samba, Cuban son and Mexico peppering her works.
Working like many Brazilians, she embraces sparseness to great effect, never better than on “Yo Vengo a Ofrecer,” in which guitar and bass sounds are dispensed like eye drops, falling gently around the hand drums and her invigorating voice.
Lucky attender Ananda Mayi review: Well, the concert was great. It was nice seeing the other “Diva’s” as well, especially Oumou Sangare.Tania Libertad was good too, but Tracy, of course, was the highlight of the evening. There was a very good turn-out. When Tracy came on I moved down to an empty box seat closer to the front. I also had binoculars. She had on jeans and a black silky top with long sleeves that flared at the wrist. She sang for a little over an hour. Although Sangare made a dramatic entrance after her back-up singers and band had played for awhile, Tracy didn’t go for this kind of fanfare. She just walked out with her accompanying musicians and began playing. Such a humble and unpretentious spirit. Only two musicians played with her, the guitarist (who was with her last year) and a drummer. Her first song was a tribute to who she called one of ‘the great diva’s’ Big Mama Thornton, “You Ain’t Nothin but a Hound Dog”. It was very up tempo. She then sang the following songs in the order given “For My Lover”, “Telling Stories”,” All That You Have Is Your Soul” (this song got a great crowd response) , one I never heard of which the name may be “Come As You Are”, “Fast Car” (crowd really loved this one) “Save a Space For Me(?)”, “Another Sun”, “Talkin’Bout A Revolution”, “Give Me One Reason” (she rocked this). The crowd called her back and she sang a short song about “If You Hear Me Callin” which only had like three lines.
Before singing “Revolution” she asked “Are you guys registered to vote? If you aren’t there’s still time.” Then she said, “It’s time for a change” and everyone clapped and shouted.
She really has a loyal following of loving fans. I wish her music was given more radio play here in the U.S.A. The last album ‘Let It Rain’ has such great material, and I’m sure it would be a million seller if they only would give it air play. Guess she’s too into supporting the struggle for human rights for the commercial interests to promote her at this point. She has a message in her music that needs to be heard; whether it’s contemplating our mortality as in “Another Sun” or the struggle of oppressed people like in ‘Talkin Bout a Revolution”. Even the love songs are so deeply touching. I can really relate too many of the lyrics in personal experiences. When I get to a scanner, will try to scan you a copy of the ticket and program. Bought a tee shirt (boot leg) which has all three artists’ pictures and says “Global Divas”. Surprisingly, there was no merchandise on sale within the venue except CD’s from Tower Records.