Rich voices, strong rhythms, energetic choreography and a whole heap of love: the London African Gospel Choir (LAGC) truly brings the joy of music and their treatment of Graceland is excellent. By no means a straight cover, LAGC added plenty of their own elements and interpretations of the classic songs, as good covers are obliged to do. That said, they made sure to stick to the original closely enough for me, and the rest of the audience, to sing heartily along.
The choice of covering Paul Simon’s Graceland was a stroke of genius. As well as being a brilliant, accessible and very well known album, its African inspiration offers a clear segway to the Choir’s core musical offering: come for Graceland, stay for gospel. I enjoyed that African Gospel set just as much as their rendition of Graceland, though of course I couldn’t join in.
Just as important as the music was LAGC’s stage presence. The joy of singing and playing their wonderful music palpably radiated from the group. Smiles broad enough to split a face in two, eye contact, exchanged banter and laughs made it clear that the group were just as happy to be there as we were to listen. On top of this, the choreography was consistently delivered with energy and presence, encouraging the young and not-so-young to shake their bones. It’s perhaps a bit of a pity that the venue didn’t put on the air conditioning; with all the lights, singing and dancing I did find myself wilting in the heat towards the end.
And of course there was the quality of the music itself. What is there to say other than that it was really, really good. A rich, clear and resonant range of voices, all in rhythm, all with passion. It’s everything one could want from good gospel. I noted to my wife that some of voices would be perfect for opera, but in my opinion this was a far better use of the skill.
Always happy, often clappy, and for a couple of numbers stirringly soulful, LAGC's live show was a delight from start to finish. On the way home I was quick to find them on Facebook and Spotify, and I suggest you do the same.