Live Review: Ibeyi w/ MKO Sun @ Black Bear Lodge
Parisian-born twins Naomi and Lisa-Kaindé Diaz a.k.a. Ibeyi lived up to their eclectic name with a captivating and unique performance in Brisbane last Sunday night. To mark their first Australian show, the sisters treated fans to an intimate glimpse into their lives, history, and impressive musical abilities.
Ibeyi enlisted support from Brisbane electro-soul trio MKO Sun to start the show on a high. The winning combination of deep, rumbling synthesisers with lead singer Hannah Macklin’s emotive vocal performance earned a warm reception for opening track Michiko. Macklin’s onstage charisma and confidence perfectly complemented the string of punchy tracks that followed from MKO Sun’s new EP ‘Opus Opalus’. The EP shows off the outfit’s electronic expertise with strong beats, smooth synthesisers, and effects in all the right places.
“The winning combination of deep, rumbling synthesisers with lead singer Hannah Macklin’s emotive vocal performance earned a warm reception for opening track…”
Low lighting combined with the edgy RnB flavour in Daffodils had everyone losing their inhibitions and sinking into the rhythm. Macklin looked so comfortable on stage that few amongst the crowd managed to resist the pull towards the dance floor. MKO Sun’s charismatic performances of Light Has No Mass and Baby’s A Dreamer drew in the stragglers, proving that pleasing a crowd is as simple as blending catchy rhythms and simple lyrics with psychedelic style. Macklin exuded energy right through to the last song, Snarly, leaving the audience dangling somewhere between satisfaction and anticipation for what was to come.
Fans of all ages filled the Black Bear Lodge with musky warmth and anticipation in the lead up to the main act. Ibeyi truly needed no introduction as they sliced through the chatter with a single note in perfect unison. The intense African chant style of the twins’ a cappella number Eleggua was the ideal opening for their brave, honest performance, coaxing the audience right into their hands.
“The intense African chant style of the twins’ a cappella number Eleggua was the ideal opening for their brave, honest performance, coaxing the audience right into their hands.”
Ibeyi looked instantly at home on the small stage as they delved into new tracks from their latest self-titled album. The twins’ graceful performance ability and natural onstage chemistry shone early in the piece through their live renditions of Ghosts and Behind The Curtain. Mama Says also featured early in the set, bringing impressive restraint and a beautifully subdued feeling to the performance and quickly became one of the night’s most memorable tracks. Minimal percussion left plenty of space for the vocals to fill the open space in the song, building on the intimate, exclusive feeling of the show.
The precise execution and infectious energy of River, Stranger/Lover, and Exhibit Diaz could have won over any non-believer. As River’s trance-inducing rhythm took hold, the whole room seemed to sway. The tune carried its listeners through to the final lingering a cappella notes, building anticipation even after the song was over. Silence in the crowd was a testament to the quality of Ibeyi’s captivating performance. They explored all the nuances of their new tracks, filling the night with strong rhythms, smooth instrumentation, and tender vocals, exhibiting captivating range and tone.
The twins revealed their honest, personable nature through their setlist, dedicating Think Of You and Yanira to family members passed. Smooth sustained vocals in Yanira, a song named after their late sister, conjured an almost meditative sensation on stage that extended through the room. The audience stood perfectly still until after the song was over, absorbing every sound and sentiment.
“The audience stood perfectly still until after the song was over, absorbing every sound and sentiment.”
Ibeyi rounded off an impressive show with a debut performance of their brand new track Fly. The twins stared into each others’ eyes as they sang to the beat of a drum, looking as though they felt like the only two people in the world. Intensely personal lyrics set to a brilliant syncopated beat made Fly just as intimate and impressive as the tracks before it.
In a live setting, Ibeyi’s intricate compositions left no room for making mistakes or playing it safe, and they did neither. Everything was as brilliant as it was unexpected, and even after the twins had played several tracks from their self-titled album ‘Ibeyi’, their magical synchronicity never lost its sparkle. Embracing the element of surprise only enhanced their performance as they threw in a few curveballs including their unique take on Whip It/Nae Nae.
To see these talented twins perform live was to reach beyond the multi-faceted auditory experience of their first full album into an understanding of the women behind it. This duo are proof music can transport you to another place, so if you’ve never visited before there are plenty of reasons to make Ibeyi your next destination.