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LIVE: Les Amazones d’Afrique – Howard Assembly Room, Leeds, 22/06/2022

Speaking specifically to the predominantly female audience in what is a packed Howard Assembly Room tonight, Fafa Ruffino, says “Our message is simple. We bring you the power to change your life; the power to change your future.” Ruffino is a member of Les Amazones d’Afrique, an all-female collective of West African musicians formed eight years ago to campaign for gender equality and represented here this evening in trio form. The Beninese vocalist is joined on stage by the Malian singer and one of the group’s founding members, Mamani Keïta, and from Côte d’Ivoire their newest recruit Dobet Gnahoré, who also plays with Na Afriki and brings with her additional energy and talent to what is an already red-hot live show.

Les Amazones d’Afrique are in Leeds on the third date of a tour of the UK that has already seen them play the Migrations Festival in Sheffield as part of Refugee Week and which will culminate at the Jazz Café in London on Sunday by way of an appearance at the Glastonbury Festival the day before. Here the three women are backed by another trio of musicians – this time on keys, guitar, and drums respectively – and together they present a splendid repertoire of songs that fuse a more traditional West African folk style with a magnificent maelstrom of huge R&B, soul, electronic, blues, and funk grooves plus the odd dash of good old fashioned rock music thrown in for good measure courtesy of a guitarist who peels of some luscious licks of which Eric Clapton in his Cream pomp would have been mightily proud. The voices of Keïta, Ruffino, and Gnahoré, be they individual or in unison, soar over this powerful platform of sound in a wonderful riot of colour and movement.

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By the end of this exhilarating ninety minute performance the audience are freed from the relative shackles of the seated auditorium and are up as one on their feet, singing, dancing, and clapping along to the collective force that is Les Amazones d’Afrique. The collaborative’s message may indeed be simple but through the beauty, energy, and sheer strength of their voices they get it across both loud and very clear. Their fight against the oppression of women, not only in the African continent but also across the rest of the world, and promotion of female empowerment and the rights of women and girls continues apace through the medium of their spectacular music.

Photos: Simon Godley

More photos of Les Amazones d’Afrique live in Leeds are HERE

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.