Review: Joe Driscoll and Sekou Kouyate at Colston Hall by Louis Emanuel (8/10)
GENUINE musical innovation and originality can be hard to come by. Some artists fall easily into a genre or sub-genre, some are harder to catalogue and some just wont stick to one style.
Both groups at Colson Hall II on Saturday night could be said to have their origins in afrobeat. But only one of them really pushed the boundaries. Supporting Joe Driscoll and Sekou Kouyate, Bristol band Mankarla did themselves no favours.
They are easily classifiable and an easy target. Representing a form of watered-down afrobeat, the ten-piece band managed to stretch out the same generic sound over a generous 45 minutes. It's remarkable how ten people with different instruments (albeit one shaking an egg of sand) can make such an unremarkable noise.
Part two however, the main event, was a lesson in innovation. New Yorker Joe Driscoll and West African star Sekou Kouyate threw their respective musical backgrounds into a melting pot and what came out was novel and original.
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Having met at French festival Nuit Metis where Driscoll and Kouyate were paired up to collaborate up by chance, the two have established a fruitful relationship. Both clearly blessed with unique talent, their differing styles and languages merge effortlessly.
Newly proclaimed Bristol resident Driscoll brings his familiar mix of rapping, folk and blues alongside a wild and distinct stage presence. Guinean Kouyate, by contrast, brings a deliberate and focussed calm to proceedings. Known in France as the Jimi Hendrix of the 20-string Kora he plays, he demonstrated a measured and skilful ability at Colson Hall.
The result was hard to place precisely with their styles interweaving and flowing and the music barely standing still – dipping in and out of genres familiar to both artists. What was certain though, was that their performance together on Saturday was energetic and genuine and as Driscoll put it, the perfect way to kick off their new tour.