In Yoruba culture, twins, or Ibejis, are known to have extraordinary powers, with an ability to cast a spell that connects them to their ancestral roots. Naomi and Lisa-Kaindé Diaz, of French-Cuban twin musical duo Ibeyi, did just that by nearly casting a mystical spell on their audience at KOKO, in London last night.
Yes, I mean literally an enchanting spell in the way that they not only had their audience swaying but as completely one with their music. More than the few that filled the audience could be found undulating their fingers, arms, and legs in perfect unison to the melodic sounds of a mixture of both English and native Nigerian language, Yoruba.
Starting off their set with a traditional Yoruba chant, Ibeyi were accompanied by nothing but each other’s voices in a cappella. Soon after, they assumed their places alongside their instruments.
Their mere musical stamina is impressive, and that alone is an understatement. Lisa-Kaindé spoke directly to the audience and admitted that she had lost her voice just three days before. She went on to say that they simply, “weren’t cancelling London.”
Not only does the sister duo ground a sound that is both harmonic and hypnotic, but the entire instrumental and visual ensemble was captivating. The set was simply magical; the duo sat facing one another with cajón and piano in between, screen behind with amplifying visuals, and four neon torched lights surrounding them at all corners.
Recent hits like “River” expectedly did the opposite of disappoint, however the set had some surprises as well. Ibeyi connected with their audience by straying from their own music but not their own sound by unexpectedly performing their own rendition of the rap hit ‘Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)” to the beat of their own intoxicating resonance.
The polyphony of their set does not climax there, as they would use their hands and chests as instruments too. With each beat of their hand to their chest came the illumination of a new torch.
The hour and fifteen minute set seemed to brilliantly capture Ibeyi’s effortless and astonishing solidarity. The echo of their sound filled the space infinitely, and they culminated their set similar to the way it began, with complete loss of background visuals, torched light, and instrumentation, with nothing left but the accompaniment of each other’s energy.