Review: MC Solaar at the Jazz Cafe

MC Solaar put on a cooler performance than the London weather for three sold out gigs at Camden’s Jazz Cafe last weekend.

They were his first UK performances in five years. But the fans certainly hadn’t forgotten about him, with hundreds queuing round the block hours in advance to see the renowned French hip-hop artist.

Solaar didn’t perform some of his biggest hits, well not those best known in Britain. Most noticeably absent, to the disappointment of many in the audience was ‘La belle et le bad boy’. But many of the other tracks made up for this, with his debut single ‘Bouge de là’ and ‘Solaar Pleure’ being particular highlights of the evening, getting the audience excitedly singing along.

And even if you’re not familiar with French, it’s still clear that MC Solaar’s diction has a clarity not often heard in rapping. He effortlessly weaves his way through each track, mastering every word and giving himself plenty of space to be expressive with the lyrics.

However, there were moments when the language barrier was a slight problem. And with no attempt from Solaar to venture away from French between tracks, English-speaking members of the audience can at times feel a little alienated while the French speakers in attendance were clearly finding hilarious.

But the energy brought the performance by both MC Solaar and his ‘crew’ more than makes up for this. Some of the dancing was a little cheesy at times, and therefore slightly incongruous with MC Solaar’s laid-back image, but overall it made for a highly amusing evening.

Linda Hamadouche, who performed backing vocals, gave a lively performance and her voice was both strong enough to hold the faster tracks but emotive enough for the likes of ‘Caroline’, really drawing the crowd in during these slower numbers.

The other two backing performers were rappers Gabriel Hoareau, aka ‘Bambi Cruz’ and Jean-Michel Traore, aka ‘Arlini’. Both gave performances as entertaining as their pseudonyms, keeping the crowd laughing with their cheeky dancing and playfully acting out many of the tracks.

And the urban, edgy Jazz Cafe was the perfect venue for MC Solaar. Although the capacity of approximately 350 may not have been be so popular with the many fans who were unable to get tickets, it made for an intimate, relaxed gig for those of us who did.

Overall, this was a highly enjoyable evening, serving as a reminder to fans just what they’ve been missing out on for the past five years but at the same time giving them a night they’re going remember for a long time. Très bon!

By Sophie Hudson

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