Lionel Loueke

Lionel Loueke performs in the DSG Hall in Grahamstown on 3 July 2015 at the 2015 National Arts Festival. Loueke is originally from Benin in West Africa but is currently living in New York. (Photo: CUEPIX/Kate Janse van Rensburg)


Seen on July 3, 2015

Announced as a gentle guitar virtuoso the West African Lionel Loueke takes the stage, just the man and his guitar. His first tunes are accompanied by something in between scatting, singing and beatbox with a multiple amount of jazz chords following in fast pace. The sound is very relaxed as the man himself. With an incredible technique he builds a soundscape that has a hint of monotonousness.

The sound of his beautiful instrument totally changes when he puts a small paper between the strings like a custom made drumpiano with a white scale of hammering abilities he produces rhythms that find lots of approval with the audience. Very different again is the melancholic suite where soft fingerpicking and whispered song find each other in a dreamy ballad about hope.

Chanting to the Sun  is an absolutely beautiful song expressing the desire for the African sun to give once more to the world. When Concord Nkabinde joins, it feels as if more body can be given to song. Accompanied by a bass guitar the sound becomes fuller and together they can explore new musical venues celebrating African brotherhood. It is quite impressive that Loueke gives Nkabinde the honour to choose the encore song, together dreaming humbly about a better Africa.