Catrin Finch and Seckou Keita at Brighton Dome - An inspired, joyful partnership

The musical collaboration of Catrin Finch and Seckou Keita is a rather marvellous, joyful and adventurous thing.

Wednesday, 26th May 2021, 11:18 pm
Seckou Keita and Catrin Finch at Brighton Dome. Photo by Jamie MacMillan
Seckou Keita and Catrin Finch at Brighton Dome. Photo by Jamie MacMillan

Both virtuosos of harp and kora (an African harp) respectively, the inspired Welsh-Sengalese partnership began as project with BBC Wales and seven years later they’re recording a third album together.

They’ll soon have as many awards as they have strings, and have already scooped the best duo t 2019’s BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, where Seckou also won the musician of the year. Perhaps unsurprisingly, their performance at the Dome was the first time they had played live in more than a year, and as Catrin said: “I think it’s a spectacular achievement just to be here in the first place.”

A rabble-rousing (or at least socially-distanced rabble) introduction from festival director Lemn Sissay, was nice enough but far short of necessary given the anticipation excitement among the live-music starved audience.

Their sound is genuinely exciting and original. The acclaimed harpist’s passion for pushing the boundaries of what her instrument can sound like is combined with the singular sound of the kora in the hands of the immensely naturally talented Keita.

The duo’s staggering virtuosity and chemistry showcase the incredible versatility and musical flexibility of both instruments.

Highlights of the festival show included Bach to Baïsso, a mash-up of the Goldberg Variations and a traditional Senegalese song, which sparkled in a way Johann Sebastian would hopefully have approved of. 1677 expresses the joy and anger of French exploitation of a Senegalese island.

Its steady and insistent riff which has shades of Brubeck’s Take Five, and the more languid of hip hop rhythms, but, like the show itself, is it’s own exhilarating, thrilling and fresh-sounding creation.