Samba Sene and Diwan: Africa Calling

The Fringe guide listing for this performance promises an ‘exuberant’ show full of 'impassioned vocals' and 'Senegalese soul'. Something must have gone wrong then, as the band has a backing singer looking distinctly bored for the majority, a bongo drummer who looks like a burnt-out investment banker and a percussionist who is reminiscent of my school IT Technician. In fact, the whole band sought a stressless middle-aged existence. But hey, let's not judge – Stevie Wonder and Elton John don't look like musicians either.Perhaps they would woo us with charisma and talent. Wrong. The only times the lead singer, Samba Sene, spoke were to tell us to buy his CD and to give excuses for their tiredness as they'd just arrived from another festival, oh and to buy their CD. Could we have felt any less valued as audience members?What makes it worse is that, besides there usually being an MCing thread of sorts in most gigs, we generally expect to at least know what is being sung. Here, the African-language lyrics are never contextualised by the band. Without the necessary MCing needed to make sense of the songs, they remain meaningless and lacked any depth. This is where the 'Senegalese soul' should be coming in, telling tales of African culture, but it isn't.Any real attempt to create an atmosphere is abandoned. Some of the band wear traditional clothes, but there's still a guitarist in a t-shirt and jeans, with IT Technician and IB Banker in very unauthentic Hawaiian shirts – and performing with your Assembly passes around your necks? Eugh.Admittedly, it was an uphill struggle for them to try and stay happy, never mind keeping us happy, given the teeming rain. Unfortunately, the undertaking of this task just reaffirmed my perception of this group as a lounge act, the warm-up on the bill, preparing us for better material to come.Certainly for the first half of the performance, I couldn't shake the feeling that this was nothing that I couldn't see on the street for free at various places in Edinburgh. While the lead singer had rugged charm and a lovely voice, and I'm sure he believed everything he was singing, it was inaccessible to me. I simply would not pay to see this show. If you like their music, buy their album.

Reviews by Fen Greatley

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

The Blurb

Exuberant Afrobeat/Mbalax fusion with touches of ska and rock. Original songs with impassioned vocals, infectious guitar licks and irresistible dancebeats. World party music with a Senegalese soul. ‘Grooving … African party central!’ (Herald).

Most Popular See More

Matilda the Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Wicked

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Tina - The Tina Turner Musical

From £12.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Frozen the Musical

From £36.00

More Info

Find Tickets

SIX

From £39.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mamma Mia!

From £21.00

More Info

Find Tickets