Review: La Mambanegra at the Riverbank Palais

Coming to the end of their 10-day Australian tour, Colombian band La Mambanegra took to the stage at the Riverbank Palais last night. The band had performed every day at WOMADelaide, yet there was no lack of energy in this performance.

Hailing from Santiago de Cali, the musicians describe their style as “Colombian break salsa.” They take on a mixture of Caribbean influences, with a bit of funk and hip hop thrown in for good measure. There are blasts of horns, passionate vocals, and jazz-like keyboard riffs. The result is energetic and mesmerizing.

Each musician in this nine-piece orchestra executed a solo, playing their instruments with brilliance and fury. The crowd were treated to showmanship and enthusiasm by lead vocalist Jacobo Velez, who interacted with audience members while singing and dancing at an electrifying pace. Everybody in the audience was dancing, and a few were called up on stage.

La Mambanegra (‘the black mamba’) is a fast-moving and powerful snake, a fitting namesake for this talented orchestra. In Colombian legend it is also an ivory flute with magical powers: it allows the flutist to recover their lost memories. Continuing in this tradition, La Mambanegra revive the memory of a mosaic of cultures, crafting their uniquely modern and Colombian sound.

La Mambanegra performed at the Riverbank Palais as part of The Adelaide Festival on Wednesday, March 15.

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