I had no idea what to expect when I ventured over to the Bouregreg stage overlooking the river, to hear Fatouma Diawara for the very first time.
I was instantly struck by the wonderful colours. She was dressed in bright yellows, reds and greens with a warm angelic gaze and a Fender Stratocaster guitar around her neck.
Always smiling, and talking in her native French, she announced every song with an infectious exuberance. "Boloco" for all of Africa, "Clandestine" for her nomadic brother, and finally "This song is about people who care about Africa, we need our father..." for Mandela of course. Always explaining and dedicating the songs to the struggles and plight of Africa, I even began to curse myself for not having studied French a little harder at school..
Faoutoma shares a lovely chemistry with the band always in visual contact and straying near to each in turn.
The songs had soul and depth, with the four-piece united in song and spirit. The semi acoustic guitar, bass, drums and vocals blended to offer up an indie guitar infused African melange that you just know would have had Damon Albarn frothing at the mouth. Simple sounds overlaid with haunting wailing vocals and occasional African chants.
At times she broke into what appeared to be traditional tribal dances, banging her shell tipped breads with a furious intensity. In a trance-like state, she screamed, chanted, twisted, span and stared through the set. A fearsome display.
Incredible musicians, clearly with a platform, a cause, and a smile it was a pleasure to behold - she even had the audience clapping in more styles than I thought possible. Without doubt my Mawazine highlight. I would urge anyone to check out Fatoumata Diawara live, I guarantee you won't be disappointed.
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