Baaba Maal and a battery of percussionists led a festive dance party at Central Park's Summerstage Monday night, eventually inviting the audience up to join them.
Senegal is not in the World Cup. Still, Africa’s soccer triumphs transcended, giving Baaba Maal’s Summerstage show on Monday night a jubilant and celebratory atmosphere. Touring in support of his most recent, and perhaps most eclectic, release, Television, Maal and his band mostly stuck to older material, propelling an hour-and-a-half long dance party interspersed with motivational messages against third-world tragedies.
He was primarily concerned, however, with conveying the festive heat of his native Northern Senegal. Leading this rhythmic cause, and his band, were two drummers: one a flamboyant hype man whose talking drum was the group’s separate but equal leader, and the other an equally animated and involved hand drummer providing percussive counterpoints. The group’s energy eventually climaxed to a group dance party, whereupon security personnel were literally hoisting audience members onto the stage.
Opening for Maal was Playing for Change, a global band advocating global causes, especially economic equality. They even managed to inject this message into songs like “Stand by Me”, their closer, which naturally became a giant sing-along.
Playing for Change