Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Blitz the Ambassador Sells Out BAM Cafe

Friday night at BAM Cafe the line at the base of the stairs snaked all the way around to the front doors: those who didn’t have the presence of mind, or simply the good fortune to get to the venue by half past eight, didn’t get in to see Blitz the Ambassador and his soaring Afrobeat band. As the bartender/emcee emphasized before the show began, concerts here on the weekend tend to fill up quickly these days. Yet there seemed to be considerable extra space in the room – there was a good crowd, but by no means a packed house. Take that into consideration the next time you see something on the calendar here that looks enticing.

About the show: Blitz the Ambassador’s band soundchecked at about quarter past eight, and sounded great. As it turned out, they hit the stage a half hour late, at 9:30, undoubtedly cutting into their time onstage. The Ghanian-born hip-hop artist switched between English, French and his native patois, delivering rapidfire, smartly conscious lyrical passages with long breaks for jamming. This band is about the music just as much as the lyrics: it makes sense that he would quote at length from the Public Enemy classic Welcome to the Terrordome at one point. A little later, he asked the crowd if they’d let him play dj, then led the band – a blistering horn section plus tasty guitar, melodic bass and drums – through a series of intros and hooks to famous African songs from over the decades, winding up with a Miriam Makeba theme which resonated potently with the older segment of the audience.

He’d opened his set with a catchy, hook-driven number in his native tongue that translated as “welcome.” The most classic, Fela-style song of the night was a fervent anticorruption anthem: Blitz made no secret of having zero tolerance for that stuff. But the most vivid moment of the night was when he went off on corporate radio. “If you wanna kill the radio, we gotta take it back to the drum, back to Africa,” he insisted, throwing his djembe over his shoulder and joining the band in an insistent, hypnotic, circular groove. The audience – an impressively diverse mix of ages and nationalities – followed his words closely and approvingly.

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January 18, 2011 - Posted by | concert, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, rap music, review, Reviews, world music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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