Review: Dobet Gnahore, Westbourne Club, Westbourne

Dobet Gnahore
Dobet Gnahore

ParkFest preparation is now under way

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Even among fans of African music in the UK, Dobet Gnahore is a relatively unknown commodity.

And this is a shame.

With four albums under her belt, the Ivory Coast native and Grammy award winner was appearing at Wemsfest as part of a short English tour to promote her latest release, Na Dre.

Despite apologising early on for her English, which was not really necessary – she sings in seven different languages – her message is clear: we’re here to have fun. And while the dancefloor was empty for the first couple of numbers, it didn’t remain that way for long.

The subject matter of the songs varies from love to politics, but a broad smile is never far from Gnahore’s face. With her magpie approach to her home continent’s music, Gnahore and her three-piecce band blend Highlife, Mandinka, Congolese rhumba and goodness knows what else into these infectious grooves.

And her voice is an incredible instrument with an impressive range.

She is also routinely joined by a pair of dancers, whose frenetic routines only serve to amp up the atmosphere even further. By the end, some game audience members are even being roped into these routines.

If she comes back this way – and let’s hope she does – you’d be foolish to miss out.