It’s been an incredible eighteen months or so for Amadou and Mariam. Their Dimanche à Bamako CD was the sound of 2005, and in the light of that success the Malian couple’s back catalogue has been subject to re-evaluation whilst the couple continue to exhibit their considerable charm at festivals and in concert halls around the globe.
Although it’s difficult to begrudge them this belated recognition, some might say that the line of over-exposure has long since been crossed, and I can imagine the weary sighs of many reviewers when this latest release landed on the doormat.
But it would be a pity if in years to come we had no visual record to remind ourselves of this engaging pair’s triumphant shows, given the warmth of feeling and excitement generated from their winning marriage of West African boogie and infectious pop hooks.
To that end, the sixteen-song concert that serves as the main attraction on this lengthy double-sided DVD plus live CD package works as an ideal coda to this heady period for them, and is a worthy complement to the original album. It captures the Malian husband and wife team and their funky band at the height of their powers in front of an enthusiastic crowd as the sun sets on a rainy La Goutte D’Or festival in Paris in the summer of last year.
A lively Coulibaly and sing-along soulful Beaux Dimanches are among the many highlights, as are older numbers such as the touching love song Je Pense à Toi and rocking Nangaraba, despite the latter featuring a superfluous cameo by a disinterested-looking Salif Keita.
Rappers Jacky and Mokebe don’t really add much to the rousing finale of La Réalité either, but at least you can flip to a superior version of the song on a set of eight bonus tracks (all repeats) from other summer festivals on the B-side of the DVD.
The rest of the overlong package (over four hours all told) is full of the usual padding one has come to expect from music DVDs. The ‘documentary’ of their US tour is bog-standard fare made up of clips of the couple shopping, being interviewed on radio and having their photos taken in front of various landmarks, all interspersed with footage of their gigs around the country. There are videos of some of the songs thrown in for good measure, a ‘making of’ the video to La Réalité and a passable twelve-track live CD to boot.
It’s hard to see what value is added with all this extra baggage and at the full price for a DVD it cannot be recommended without reservation. There is surely a market out there for the less-is-more-at-a-reasonable-price DVD?