Live Review: Ibeyi – Chevron Festival Gardens, Perth (04.03.16)

Ibeyi kicked off their Australian tour on Friday night, with a performance at Perth’s Chevron Festival Gardens as part of the Perth International Arts Festival. The twin sisters, Lisa-Kainde and Naomi Diaz, gave the crowd a crash course in the Yoruba culture, beguiling and entrancing the gathered audience with their infectious enthusiasm and their soulful music.

For over seventy minutes, the two sisters worked through the tracks from their debut album, dropping in a new song and a cover here and there, all the while showcasing their unique fusion of Afro-Cuban music and electronic beats, not to mention their almost intuitive harmonisation and musicality. All delivered with great vitality and zeal – these sisters love to perform, it seems.

Kicking things off with “Eleggua” performed acapella, the sisters’ beautiful two-part harmonies were on display right from the start. Harmonies that would be on display right through the set. The mood of the evening was largely uplifting and joyful; if you’re not smiling when these two are in full swing, there may be something wrong with you. Though there were a few mournful and elegiac moments, such as “Yanira”, a song for their late sister who passed away in 2003 and “Think Of You”, a song dedicated to their father.

An early highlight of the set was apparent new song, “Lost in my Mind”, which saw the crowd get involved in the obligatory call and response sing along. The other new song, “Fly”, fitted seamlessly into the set; it was a beautiful song and one that will hopefully make an appearance on the next record.

“Mama Says” was naturally another highlight, with Naomi’s percussive elements expanding to include, knee slaps, hand claps, and finger snaps. It was a joy to watch. Whilst the sister’s described “Mama Says” as the song that opened all the doors for them; based on crowd reception, their most recognizable song is “River” and the audience were treated to it twice, once roughly mid set, and then again as an encore – that time with much greater crowd participation – with the Perth audience in fine voice.

Ibeyi proved to be a fitting choice to kick off the last weekend of music at the Festival Gardens; they were soulful and uplifting, and wonderfully enthusiastic – with both sisters working the stage and the crowd, breaking into dance frequently. They were clearly loving being on stage, and that joy was infectious. This was Ibeyi’s first time in Perth; hopefully they’ll be back before to long!