....To (almost) echo a previous post: Music. I really do love music. Tonight I think Kelly and I had the best Monday night we ever had. Like no other. It was courtesy of Wiltons Music Hall and the phenomenal Creole Choir of Cuba.
London can sometimes offer us wonderful opportunities, and it came in the form of free tickets on a first come, first served basis to see the choir perform their debut in England. Popularity for the choir has been picking up speed of late, following a first visit to the UK earlier in the year, then a string of dates in Edinburgh to much critical acclaim. They were performing at Wiltons on the eve of their debut performance on Jools Holland, (you should be able to see that on Tuesday 18th, BBC2), so we felt doubly privileged to see them first.
We had drinks on the walkway outside the entrance before going inside, where we basked in a warming evening sun, whilst prying on the eclectic mix of people that were here for the show.
Inside, the compere appeared on stage prior to the performance and talked about the members of the choir and how they formed. Their website describes the background more fully, but they are Cubans of Haitian ancestry, descendants of migrants who fled slavery in the 18th Century. As a result, their songs are heavily steeped in this history, but also of a much more contemporary history in the form of the Haiti earthquake earlier this year.
Kel and I kick back
When the choir gets underway, it unravels as a blend of Caribbean rhythm with harmonies that remind me of the fantastic Buena Vista Social Club. Sung in a mix of Creole from various Caribbean countries, I could not understand what they sang of, but was utterly blown away by their love for the music, their passion for dance, their perfection of a harmony and the resulting beauty of the songs that they perform.
Their opening track reduced me, I'm not ashamed to say, to a combination of chilling goose bumps and then tears. Kelly was not far behind. The slower, more harmonic songs were truly stunning, whilst the rhythm and dance vibe of the others got the audience on their feet, brought hugs for the choir and a general good feeling throughout the hall.
On stage for an hour, almost every song brought a standing ovation, until the last song brought the longest of all. As the choir left the stage, they did so by walking through the audience whilst singing beautifully in A Cappella.
We walked downstairs and decided to stay for another drink. Wiltons was still full, there was live jazz playing and people were still out on the path drinking alfresco. It seemed like anything other than a Monday night. And, boy, what a night it was.