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Published date: July 15, 2019
Last modified: July 15, 2019

Young Critics Review 2019 – Kabantu (by Esme Boyle)


Last week I went to see Kabantu. The dark wood ornate panelling and glowing candles of the grand Swinfen Hall Hotel ballroom seemed the perfect setting, and we knew it would be special.

Watching Kabantu is so immersive it feels like a wave, sometimes calm and peaceful and other times lively, transporting you instantly to a small, tranquil country on the other side of the Earth. Kabantu are a quintet from Manchester but take inspiration from traditional music found all over the world, recreating the sounds of many cultures. As soon as they came out they picked up their instruments and started playing a very fun and upbeat song with heavy percussion and bass – it really set the scene for the rest of the night.

Out of the many songs that Kabantu played, my favourite was Malaika because of the beautiful and moving story it told. One of the things I noticed about the band was that they had such respect and love for each other, it really felt like they were playing as one. They are truly skilful, playing a multitude of instruments including beautiful whistling that seemed like an instrument in itself. The band together was truly greater than the sum of its parts.

As the night went on, I felt the crowd settled in. Everybody seemed to be really enjoying the music as I could see hands and feet tapping along. I really enjoyed their performance and would love to see them again.

By Esme Boyle (age 13)