Soweto Afro Pop Opera (3 stars)

This article is from 2015

Soweto Afro Pop Opera

Downsized to a trio, but nonetheless breezy and confident

Comparing reviews of this ensemble’s appearance in Edinburgh last year with their 2015 vintage is a study in contrasts. 12 months ago, reviewers spoke of a larger vocal ensemble backed by a full live band that merged Western and African contemporary song styles to create a lively and dynamic show. This year, presumably mindful of their festival budget, the Soweto Afro Pop Opera group have no backing band and are instead reduced to a trio performing to a backing track.

Even without this knowledge there is a sense that the space feels slightly large for them, that there should be more going on up there. Yet taken within the context of what’s going on, it’s an enjoyable show, pitting three voices against and alongside each other in a lively recreation of styles from both spheres of their influence.

The trio have a breezily confident way with their vocal parts, incorporating modern Western soul pop styles and a crooner's sensibility, although the show is light on the opera element. Among their numbers are a delicate version of 'Somewhere (There's a Place For Us)' from West Side Story and 'There's Music in the Air' by Soweto-born jazz singer Letta Mbulu, and the light, populist aesthetic their music builds up has the audience clapping in time on command.

C, until Mon 31 Aug (not 19), 5pm, £11.50--£9.50 (£7.50--£5.50).

Soweto Afro Pop Opera

  • 3 stars

Vilakazi Entertainment Group (South Africa) A harmony quartet offering as wide-ranging a repertoire as their name suggests, coming across like a South African Il Divo and a sleepy Ave Maria. Accompanied by a string quartet, or a township boy band with cheesy moves on some diluted soul pop numbers. With this family…