Having listened to the album through a few times, we had a good idea of the sounds of the band – an edgy, funky, innovative mix of African drum beats and vocals with the odd shredding bass line to mix it up – but everything other than that was left down to imagination.
We were hoping for a lively performance packed with cultural diversity, originality and fun; safe to say we got all of that and a whole lot more.
A quick shoutout has to go to support act Estere, who warmed up the crowd wonderfully with a one-woman show packed with raw musical talent and oozing charisma, but it was when Mbongwana came on that the party really got started.
Randy Makana Kalambayi was an ever-present bubble of energy on the drums, setting the tempo for an increasingly effervescent crowd who didn’t hold back on the foot stepping and dance moves. It would’ve been incredibly hard to stand still.
On the vocals were Theo Nsituvuidi and Coco Ngambali, both in wheelchairs and delivering rhythmic, floating chants over the sensational guitar work of Jean-Claude Kamina Mulodi, aka R9.
The story behind Theo and Coco is one worth telling. The pair used to be in a band named Staff Benda Bilili, a group of homeless musicians using wheelchairs because of childhood polio who had sculpted their instruments from rubbish and became a global sensation.