Review: Badi Assad @ LIFEM 2014 Kings place (London, 29th October 2014)

Originating from Brazil, Badi Assad looks to push the boundaries of musical performance through a sense of freedom and experimentation that is rarely shown on stage. She flowingly mixes a wide range of influences, spanning from the traditional music of her homeland to an amalgamation of Jazz, Pop and other Ethnic sounds. This gives Badi Assad’s audience an exhilarating experience that showcases her astonishing guitar parts, unrivalled percussive vocals and her open mindedness for collaboration. This all results in the formation of a music genre that only she manages to populate.

On the 29th of October, London’s Kings Place was honoured to have Badi brace their stage as part of the London International Festival of Exploratory Music (LIFEM). From the very beginning, her presence resonated within the main hall as she sat down to tell a story to the audience about her identity and how all of her family’s cultural background gives her the power to be who she is. This mesmerising story was backed by her guitar and transformed into her first song ‘Eu Vim Daquele Lugar’. After the audience had a chance to warm to Badi, she brought on stage an old friend of her’s named Simone Sou. Simone changes the way a drum kit is usually played by thinking of ways to make it sound more like a percussion set in order not to be too overbearing with the minimal set-up of the performance. Her exploration of the instrument is phenomenal and makes a perfect rhythmic backing to Badi’s up-beat songs, such as the irresistibly catchy – ‘Pega No Coco’. Soon came one of the highlights of the evening, with Badi and Simone giving a mind blowing performance of ‘Solais’. This song was about an experience she felt when standing at the top of a mountain – overlooking a great valley in front of her which gave her the feeling of flight without boundaries. This was very much expressed in the song as she made it a point to explore the very boundaries of her vocal capabilities through percussive taps and Tuvan Throat Singing. The concert then moved forward to a covers medley that included everything from Vangelis to Eurythmics. When she reached Valse d’amelie by Yann Tiersen, she brought out the fantastic Oleg Fateev on the Bayan (a Russian button Accordion) to perform with her the emotionally moving soundtrack to Amelie. As the concert progressed, this trio clearly blended well together and were helping to push each-other’s limits while maintaining a level of clarity between each other with only the music as their way of communication.

The concert finished with a roaring applause that brought Badi Assad back on stage to perform a vocal-improv encore. This was the perfect closing to her set as it was clear that every audience member had been touched by her vitality and warm spirit. It is not often that a performer really manages to bring their personality to the stage, but Badi Assad made you feel like a friend, not just an audience member.

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