Words and photo by Birikiti Pegram, Songlines Intern
The final show of Carmen Souza’s tour was an ever so slightly sombre evening, as she and her band performed their set for the last time. Their camaraderie in jokes between songs seemed twinged with a hint of nostalgia, and the small audience gave the night an intimate air, and a bittersweet kind of beauty to behold.
‘Afri Ká’ – her signature song celebrating the continent, and a personal favourite – was what I was waiting for and the band played it early on in the set. They wore earthy reds and golds, or nature’s blues and greens. And the rainy streets of Camden outside (even the mildly intimidating, dark and cold venue that is the Jazz Cafe) seemed very far away with the bright sounds and colours of the ocean and the island of Souza’s Cape Verde filling the room.
Her cover of the islands’ most famous song of longing, ‘Sodade’, later on in the set was lovely to watch – slow and moving, with Theo Pas’cal on double bass lamenting loud and deep over a minimal instrumental arrangement.
The finale was a rousing re-run of ‘Afri Ká’. I am a sucker for audience participation, and with a shy kind of eagerness, we sung our warmed little hearts out to the catchy chorus. It was an honour to be the last audience for the Protegid tour. Though it felt a little like we were sharing goodbyes, with her new album Kachupada set for UK release in February, and another tour on the way, there is more to look forward to.