Quote of Up Close & Personal Tour : “A touch of universal love was permeating the atmosphere. The set was flawless. Everybody was geared to the beat of their narration, nothing was out of bounce, out of step, or out of synch. From funky moods, afro beat or French infused soul to pure mellow cool blue Jazz, a real panorama of world music in the black.”
By Manu Di FeliciAntonio
Les Nubians – Highline Ballroom NYC. June 27th 2017
8 pm. The room had plunged in semi-darkness as a voice came out of the speakers and words appear on the screen at the back of the stage. Sounds and colors were descending on my consciousness, or our common consciousness, I should said – I felt like I was invited to an experience that would be memorable at least and great at best. We were forty seconds into the audio and visual display, and here they were dramatically entering the premises, walking gracefully, placing themselves strategically at the front of the stage, seating on chairs next to each other as they were setting the tone for something special, intimate and very close to me, the spectator. They were radiating with mesmerizing flowing outfits reminiscing of a regal past that they were about to share with their audience. Celia and Helene Faussart, the sisters, had also brought along three extraordinary gifted musicians that night. A keyboard player, A bass player, and a drummer, percussionist. The show began.
And what a show it was! The concept was clear from the beginning – Helene started speaking of her father and her mother, and how they were conceived out of love at the crossroads of so many tales of immigrants, one mother from Cameroon, Africa, working as a nurse in Paris, and an older Jewish father from the north of France, who could not resist the love that he discovered in the presence of this young African Queen. So, here they went, back to the motherland, and made a family. As Celia and Helene ended that beginning chapter of their inception, a song was born, and I understood that I was witnessing more than just a concert with a track list – I was witnessing the birth of the story of a musical odyssey, that will lead those two beautiful and gifted sisters from the land of their birth, to a nomination to a Grammy award, via the French cities of Bordeaux, and Marseilles – Three worlds in one really, as the self named Afro-pean queens had now entered global consciousness. As the songs were introduced by segments of their lives, the music became more present as it was becoming clear to me that I was about to hear some of their pivotal tunes, material that was illustrating these chapters of Les Nubians epic journey. And of course, as the trio was accompanying the two singers, it made sense now, that this was the only way to be invited in – magically hypnotized by this lit visual backdrop and these five figures projected like shadows upon the shores of our dreams. I was open now to any tale, any story, anything that Helene and Celia was sharing with us was “game” that night. The only thing missing was a fire and tribal elders surrounding them and us. I was totally taken by the words of these modern griots. Time to time, I popped my head to look for an horn that I was hearing, but it was just the expert fingers of that keyboard player who definitely knew the alchemy of synthesized notes. We were cruising by now, as the time was running on the clock, the story became more heroic and meaningful for all of us I thought – A touch of universal love was permeating the atmosphere. The set was flawless. Everybody was geared to the beat of their narration, nothing was out of bounce, out of step, or out of synch. From funky moods, afro beat or French infused soul to pure mellow cool blue Jazz, a real panorama of world music in the black. The percussionist reminded me of “John” from the legendary group assembled by Miles Davis post TUTU, and the man with the bass had the strength of what I call the quiet wall. An indestructible support of all the keys, like he’s right there but he can not be seen.
Two hours later, what? Two hours? He felt like two minutes. I was shocked when I looked at the time. It was after 10 PM and the show was over. Showered by encores they came back for another chapter. But wait… This was their next thing, their Detroit experience. And it sounded huge. It Sounded like… Just go, and you won’t miss a beat.