ladysmith Black Mambazo engages Ogden audience

Friday , March 28, 2014 - 12:59 PM

Nancy Van Valkenburg, Standard-Examiner Staff

OGDEN — Ladysmith Black Mambazo played to a nearly full house this weekend at Ogden’s 800-seat Peery’s Egyptian Theater. The group earned vigorous applause, warm cheers and a standing ovation.

The Grammy winning South African a cappella group, which first gained world attention 27 years ago when it performed on Paul Simon’s “Graceland” album, seemed to engage its audience for the full, two-hour show.

“We were surprised how animated they were,” said Jay Tyler, an Ogden rock ’n roll musician who attended with daughter, Holly, 8. “I liked how they explained the stories, and what the songs are about. I grew up listening to Paul Simon, so I was introduced to this music years ago.”

Group members stood at 10 of 11 microphones. The extra mic was in honor of group cofounder Josef Shabalala, 72, who is recovering slowly from back surgery. But Shabalala was well represented by his four sons and one grandson among the group members.

“I like it,” Holly said. “I think its been really interesting because it’s from somewhere else, and it’s different music and really cool.”

Carole McIntosh, of Ogden, attended the concert with a group of friends.

“I love the rhythm,” she said, of the songs, sung in isicathamiya and mbube style. “It’s a little bit different and I really find it entertaining. “I have heard African groups before in Los Angeles, and I do notice they have a slower, step-into-it rhythm, I call it. I enjoyed it and I think, from the applause, everyone enjoyed it. Ogden has great restaurants, but it needs more great entertainment like this.”

The group, which has lost members and loved ones to race-based attacks, sang about peace and hope. It also threw in songs about focusing for a more successful life, about romantic love and jealousy, and even about mothers-in-law. Among the audience favorites were “Long Way to Freedom,” sung in honor of late South African leader Nelson Mandela, and “Homeless,” from the “Graceland” album.

Group members did simple dance steps as a group, or more complex steps as individuals. Many of the breakouts were playful and funny, which the audience appreciated.

“They all have their own little fun, unique things they do,” said Bill Gardiner, Ogden. “I think they were really awesome. I love a cappella, and this has a nice twist to this. It’s cool that they came to Ogden.”

The concert was a honeymoon outing for Lindy Leqakowailuty, a Clearfield native now living in Payson. She married husband Norman, from New Zealand, just two days before the Saturday concert.

“I get a music credit from Weber State Online, and Norman is big into Rugby, and Ladysmith Black Mambazo sang one of the Rugby anthems in the World Cup in South Africa in 1995, so we were like, ‘two for one, let’s go,’  ” Lindy Leqakowailuty said.

“It’s thoroughly entertaining. I love the comedic element in it, and I love a cappella. It’s a different concert. It’s not Britney Spears or anything. It’s got its own culture, and I love the sound that is so even toned.”

Norman Leqakowailuty liked the group’s rich, full sound.

“I heard one of their CDs, and I think this is CD quality,” he said of the concert.

Jay Tyler said seeing a world renowned group in an Ogden venue is a good thing.

“I think its great for Ogden to be exposed to good types of music and not just hair bands from the ’80s,” he said. “I’m surprised its not sold out. But it’s great for Ogden, and Ogden has come so far in the past 12 years that I’ve been here. I like how it’s up and coming and gets more and more culture. “If people come out and support events like this, we will get more and more, and it will get even better.”

Contact Nancy Van Valkenburg at 801-625-4275 or Follow her on Twitter at@SE_NancyVanV.

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