BAMAKO NIGHTS - LIVE AT BAR BOZO 1995
Captured live in 1995 while still on the road to becoming a legend of African blues, this enormously atmospheric and earthy performance provides a riveting snapshot of how Lobi was transforming the acoustic Malian blues by incorporating rock, funk and more into a broader musical soundscape.
The venue for this amazing performance was a nightclub in a less than salubrious part of downtown Bamako, capital city of Mali. The club was closed down by the authorities a few weeks after this appearance and, whatever the reasons for this closure, it surely couldn't have been a musical decision. In front of a raucous but appreciative and good natured audience, the music smoulders and hypnotises, helped in no small part by the acoustics and atmosphere of the club.
Opening solo with Ni Tugula Mogo Mi Ko, a showcase for Lobi's warm and expressive vocals over a simple but effective delta blues riff, this is a captivating nine minutes that passes all too quickly. This track alone is sufficient evidence that we are listening to a major artist and is worth the admission price alone.
For the remaining eight tracks, Lobi is joined by a rock solid band, allowing his spectral electric guitar riffs and solos to float and shimmer. The influences on these tracks take in much more than African blues, amply demonstrating why Lobi fought against attempts to tightly pigeon-holed his music into a pre-defined category.
Unfortunately Lobi passed away in 2010 aged on 49 but this newly-released live set from 1995 reminds us of a unique talent that is well worth investigating.
Review Date: January 2014