Ibeyi w/Vicktor Taiwò | 09.24.15

live Ibeyi-smIbeyi’s Yoruba and Cuban ancestries play an extreme importance in their music and everything they sing about.

The Ready Room, St. Louis

live Ibeyi

The Ready Room had a spiritual trance–like vibe on this night. Besides the fact that the room was dark and cozy, the stage also held two candles and the room smelled of a subtle fragrance that brought you toward inner peace. Every one in the room was smiling, and that didn’t change one bit from the beginning to the end of this concert. No one was aware of the night that was in store for them, but the Ready Room was unintentionally preparing everybody for it.

The opening performer came onto stage quietly, but deemed all our attention by his tall and slender statue. Shoeless, he walked right up to the front of the stage, took a breath, and without even saying hello, began belting out some surprisingly well-groomed vocals. This being his first appearance in St. Louis, Vicktor Taiwò shocked us gracefully with an unexpected earthly voice. His accent was thick as he titled each of his pieces and explained that he hails from England. He was accompanied by one guitarist; as soon as they started performing, I saw awe in everyone’s eyes and smiles of amazement on their faces. The guitarist even seemed captivated at some of the notes Taiwò was successfully hitting.

Headliners, the twin-sister duo Ibeyi, came out to a room full of cheers as they began to set up their stage atmosphere. Sisters Naomi and Lisa-Kaindé Díaz lit their candle simultaneously, signifying their unmistakable chemistry and thus marking the beginning of their performance.

Once the candles were burning at opposite corners of the stage, they began their a cappella refrain of the album’s introduction “Eleggua.” Following their second song, they gave a brief speech to help us transcend into a more knowledgeable nature of their Yoruba and Cuban ancestry. The duo’s name, Ibeyi, means twins in the Yoruba language. Pianist Lisa-Kaindé explained how their Yoruba and Cuban ancestries play an extreme importance in their music and everything they sing about.

Yoruba is the West African language that was transposed to Cuba at the time of slavery. The sisters were born in Paris but spent two years of their childhood in Havana, Cuba. They visit Cuba on a yearly basis and their music draws directly from the Cuban culture. Sister Naomi performed percussion on the cajón and batá drum, two instruments that derived directly from the Cuban culture and the Yoruba religious practices. Naomi also used her body as an instrument during their song “Mama Says” by creating sequential taps on the cajón, followed by her knees, then chest, and ending with finger snaps.

The twins not only performed with their voices and body percussion, they also grasped some vocal participation from the crowd. Yoruba music is heavy on bass with a lot of repetition and chanting. To get the crowd to really experience a piece of the Yoruba culture, they had us repeat a few chants after them for the songs “I’m on My Way” and their encore of “River.” The environment was intimate enough to get excellent crowd participation for group claps.

The night ended with the sisters returning to center stage and extinguishing the candles that signified the spirituality of their performance. Once Ibeyi left the stage, the room was filled with the most beautiful smiles one has ever seen at the end of a concert. Everyone had fallen into a peaceful trance during the performance, and all stayed in that trance after the end of the show.

If you have not checked out Ibeyi’s self-titled album or any music by Vicktor Taiwò, I suggest you do so. It will create a more cultured view of your music selection and open your mind to the other musical sounds the world encompasses. | Alexy Irving

Photos by Alexy Irving; see more on our Facebook page.

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