Hailu Mergia with Tony Buck and Mike Majkowski (9/10)
Start 21:50 / End 23:15
Hailu Mergia is an Ethiopian composer and piano player and was a member of the quite famous Ethiopian group Walias Band in the 70s and 80s until he moved permanently to the United States. He hadn’t played any concerts for more than 20 years and is working as a taxi driver (never without a keyboard in his trunk, though) in Washington D.C. He started getting back on stage last year after his 1985 cassette release “Hailu Mergia & His Classical Instrument” got re-released by the good people of Awesome Tapes from Africa and he definitely seems to like being on stage again. He is excellently accompanied by fantastic drummer Tony Buck and double bass wizard Mike Majkowski.
The set has a very jazzy, a bit nostalgic feel to it and at the same time it is strangely futuristic or maybe retro-futuristic. The drum and the bass playing are very driving and energetic while Mergia plays some slightly psychedelic melodies on the Rhodes electric piano, the accordion or the melodica. The songs are (no surprise here) instrumental with one notable exception where Hailu Mergia sings. He has a surprisingly soft and clear voice and the song is beautiful. After the song he reveals to the enthusiastic audience that he has not sung this song for forty years and he did it because he wants to “make you happy”.
The crowd seems to be a bit moved but gets back into the groove with ease. The concert closes with one encore after about 90 minutes and the band leaves the stage and the audience cheering happily.

Pictures as usual on Flickr, too.

Venue: Urban Spree
Price: 13,00€ at the door

Berlin, 03.06.2014

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