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Angélique Kidjo, Royal Albert Hall review — 40 years of music and activism celebrated

As Angélique Kidjo strode elegantly on to the stage at London’s Royal Albert Hall in a floor-skimming, gold-sequinned gown and African head wrap, she looked every inch the diva. “You thought you were coming to a concert,” she told the packed audience, “but you’re going to be working.”

The Benin-born, five-times Grammy-winning star, nicknamed “the Queen of African music”, urged the audience to sing along. It seemed she might have had her work cut out. The mix of Fair-Isle-sweater-and-slacks types, who looked like they might have been at the first Womad Festival in 1982, younger hipsters and a west African contingent in fabulous frills and elaborate prints, appeared too well-behaved for anything as lively as audience participation.

But Kidjo is not a woman to be put off. Exuding magnetic stage presence and charisma, her voice soared majestically through the infectious and rousing rhythms of 2010’s “Kelele”, complete with playful pizzicato strings courtesy of the Chineke! Orchestra, Europe’s first majority black and ethnically diverse ensemble. Soon she was moving on to her lyrical version of Santana’s “Samba Pa Ti”, with its flirtatious flutes and words in Yoruba.

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*The views of the above article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Africa Speaks 4 Africa or its editorial team.

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