Review: Ladies of Midnight Blue

Get your Boomwackers out!

Forget vuvuzela’s, there’s a new kid in town!

And this one’s got all kinds of mystique behind it. That’s what the Ladies of Midnight Blue brought to Live Theatre on Saturday evening.

Ladies of Midnight Blue performing at Live Theatre
Just when you think you’ve had enough of the ‘winter weather’ and you’re craving that little something which gets you out and about, shaking off those winter cobwebs. These Ladies sure do know how to party. Forget the winter blues, forget any kind of weather, the Ladies of Midnight Blue know how to get you moving and involved, no matter where you are.

The evening, jam packed with a real African reggae vibe complementing the jazz beat that is so iconic to all of us and perfect in the funky Studio space of Live Theatre.

After a very relaxed start to the evening, we were introduced to the first act Michael Lion and Family. The audience were already keen to get their groove on with the beats of DJ Shadow filling the room with sound, and Lions obliged with a warm and soulful start to the evening. Lions’ relaxed reggae sound flowed nicely with the contrast of his pitched backing singers’ vocals, complimenting Lions’ huskier tones.

As with any reggae / jazz evening, we were then treated to a short break. Time to refill your drinks and get ready for the next act.

Next up were Afsumu Blue who really stepped it up a notch by getting you into that funky spirit. The jazz base booming throughout the room and Sue Mitchell’s Jazz vocals were a beautiful accompaniment to the reggae beats of her singing partner. Their track Give it up was a particular moving high point, where the only thing I would be giving up is my heart to the sound of Mitchell’s vocals. It made for a funky, but moving sound and made for a great funk/jazz set with busting base.

We then moved on to a great set by Kennedy and Masamba, singing in the Local dialect and African rhythm, complemented beautifully with the sound of the acoustic guitar. Their act was more musically and lyrically based and made for some great singer/songwriter tracks. You felt like you were listening to the roots of African music and culture.

After a short break and with the room head bobbing to the beat of the reggae, jazz vibes laid out by the great collection of artists enjoyed so far you know who was on their way…

Boom, boom, boom – by the beat of my drums…

The Ladies of Midnight Blue (consisting of Hannabiel Sanders and Yilis del Carmen Suriel) entered and began their set electrifyingly. After a short charismatic intro from one half of the Ladies, Hannabiell, they suddenly sprung into life.

Banging their congas with great rhythm, so much so that when I sit here and write about their act there’s nothing I can say other than; “You have to see them for yourselves”. The Ladies have great energy and musical skill, their personalities and energy, combined with their instrumental hand percussion is a unique experience.

Me: “A Boomwacker? – What’s that?”

Hannabiel: “I’ll tell you what that is Steven. It’s a pitched plastic tube”.

Me: “A pitched plastic tube? What do you do with it?”

Hannabiel: “Well you either beat it on your hand or on the end of your table to make a funky sound”.

And on that note, together, we made some sounds.

After a great display of musical prowess with their congas and a beautiful sound from Hannbiell’s trombone (called Tyler, by the way), The Ladies’ energy and personalities on stage shone through to make it an enjoyable night that’s perfect any day of the year. They got in amongst the audience handing out ‘Pitched Plastic Tubes’, or as you now know, Boomwackers getting the audience to create a band with them onstage to make a new song. Their energy and enthusiasm is something which flows throughout their music, not to mention their musical skill and fun on stage.

After some fun getting the whole room boomwacking, singing, clapping or stomping they moved on to sing through vocal chants and mbira compositions. Their musical involvement, percussion and variety onstage made for a brilliant set. Finishing with the finale of getting people involved to create a musical band with a drum stomping ending that left you moving on your feet, ready to start your own musical revolution.

So I say to you;

Get your Boomwackers out and start your musical revolution!

Or alternatively, get along to see the Ladies’ great energy and skill sometime soon. You’re guaranteed to have a boom stomping time.

The Ladies of Midnight Blue are back at Live Theatre on Saturday 20 September, Friday 31 October (for a Halloween Special) and Saturday 29 November. Tickets cost just £5Find out more and book tickets here or call Live Theatre’s Box Office on (0191) 232 1232.

Thanks for reading!

Steven Blackshaw


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