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Review: Songlines Music Awards 2014 Winners’ Concert, Sage Gateshead

A concert normally held in London brought the best in World Music to Sage Gateshead's Hall One.

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Catrin Finch and Seckou Keita who won the cross-cultural collaboration award for Clychau Dibon
Catrin Finch and Seckou Keita who won the cross-cultural collaboration award for Clychau Dibon

These are the Baftas for World Music in the UK. Prestigious and important, they celebrate the best in this wide-ranging genre.

The winners’ concert is usually held in London so this was a coup for the Sage. I had been looking forward to it for months.

First on stage was newcomer award winner Family Atlantica, based in London and comprising musicians from Latin America, Africa and Europe.

Fusing Latin and African rhythms, they performed an upbeat set which would have taken a festival by storm. The low turn-out was disappointing and the venue lacked the party atmosphere the group deserved.

Fronted by Venezuelan singer Luzmira Zerpa, they worked hard and their enthusiasm sparked a good audience reaction.

Sadly, Bassekou Kouyate, who won best artist for album Jama Ko, had had to return home due to a family emergency. Hopefully, we’ll see him at a later date.

The cross-cultural collaboration award went to Catrin Finch and Seckou Keita for their album Clychau Dibon

The duo play stringed instruments – Welsh harp and West African kora – which dovetail to produce a great sound. Their set, which I found absorbing, was genteel in the manner of a classical music recital.

The music, though delicate, was full of energy and with the irreverence of the Penguin Cafe Orchestra. Tremendous stuff!

Touareg desert blues band Tamikrest won the best group award with their album Chatma, which means ‘sisters’ in Tamashek and is about women who suffer during war.

The band left Mali when Islamic fundamentalists took power and banned music so they now live in exile.

Their music was hypnotic and mesmerising. Delicate percussion and hand claps are key to the Tamikrest sound and they were used to good effect, highlighting the beat in a seamless set.

For those who did turn out, this was a memorable evening in the company of outstanding musicians and passionate performances.

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