A concert to raise your spirits

Black Umfolosi 5, Bury St Edmunds Festival, Theatre Royal, Wednesday May 19

The five young men from Zimbabwe who sang and danced on the stage of the Theatre Royal on Wednesday night quickly won the hearts of the audience and provided a heart-warming evening of entertainment from another continent.

The ‘a capella’ singing was consistently excellent, with rich harmonies and attractive timbres, somewhat reminiscent of the well known Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and reflecting various aspects of everyday human experience and African life.

Mother Africa started the concert, reminding us of the performers’ roots, and the songs which followed ranged from a representation of the familiar steam trains still widely used in Africa, to a sentimental reminiscence entitled Home Sweet Home.

Summertime made humorous references to ‘convertible cars’ and ‘amazing mini skirts’ whilst ‘I brought you up, my son’ was a more poignant piece about a man who moved from a village to the city and lost touch with his family.

With choreographed movements to accompany most songs, the performers also stepped forward to do individual dances, again reflecting homely African styles. The atmosphere of the concert was good-humoured and relaxed, and commentaries between the songs reflected on cultural curiosities and differences between Africa and The UK.

Near the end, after some enthusiastic audience participation, the performers reappeared in hard hats, colourful trousers and gumboots to perform rhythmic routines whose origins are in the mining areas of South Africa. This was a delightful concert which lifted the spirits and put a smile on your face.

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Wynn Rees

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