Gigs, dance, art

December 20th, 2007: The Ex with Getatchew Mekuria / Le Tigre des Platanes / Melaku Belay

@theatre Gerard Philipe

At least I got another wish fulfilled this year. Back in August I wrote that The Ex with Getatchew Mekuria was a gig I was eagerly expecting, and I did get that one (the other was Sunburned, no luck on the rest of that list). The evening didn’t start all that well with some public transportation trouble that had me running late. I did get there just in time though.

I don’t know the name of the first performer. I read that Melaku Belay was the dancer that joined him during a song, with these typical shoulder and head moves that just scream Ethiopia to me. I’d go out on a limb and say this was an Azmari performance, but that may just be me being ignorant. What I did see was a lively performance by a singer using a single-stringed, box-shaped violinish instrument. I didn’t understand a single word, but he proved to be adept at working a crowd, which seems to be a common trait to Ethiopian performers I’ve seen so far. I would have liked that set to last longer.

Then came a French band, Le Tigre des Platanes, who performed Ethiopian songs except for a great Dog Faced Hermans cover, appropriate enough in that setting. Drums, bass, sax and trumpet combo, they sounded like they had deep roots in jazz. It wasn’t that much of a good sign when that showed, but they did a great job of performing Ethiopian standards with some unusual personality. I’ve been told they are great people as well, which may have biased my opinion. On the other hand, I really wanted them to be done and make way for the main act.

Meaning The Ex, Getatchew Mekuria, and additional guests on saxophone, trombone, clarinet and bass. Maybe it was a bit too close to their record, but that’s just nitpicking. That show was great, Katherina remains my favorite drummer, G.W. Sok was his usual commanding presence when not hiding on the side, and Getatchew was just as good as advertised. The best was how much he seemed to be enjoying being there. He smiled throughout and danced with his instrument when not playing. That was such a great touch. The guy is definitely no dummy either; makes me wonder what he sounded like a few decades ago in his own country. He probably changed a few lives way back then, I wonder what came out of that. I feel blessed to have witnessed that performance, great as music and heart-warming in a way few have been in my experience. Even Wax and Gold turned out just as powerful but less painful than usual for me — I got some serious vibes about that song…


December 25, 2007 - Posted by | Music | , , ,

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