Ladysmith Black Mambazo

Live [Heads Up]

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The music scene in South Africa has evolved considerably since the 1970s. Many of the younger South African musicians who grew up in a post-apartheid era aren't old enough to vividly remember the days of apartheid, although they have heard a lot about apartheid from their parents and grandparents. But one constant in the South African music scene has been Ladysmith Black Mambazo, who were quite popular in the 1970s and '80s and were still going strong in the late 2000s. Released by Heads Up in early 2009, this DVD documents a concert at EJ Thomas Hall at the University of Akron in Akron, OH. There are no guest appearances by Sarah McLachlan, Melissa Etheridge, Natalie Merchant, or any other North American singer/songwriters during the show; it's just South Africa's most legendary vocal group offering solid a cappella performances of favorites like "Homeless," "Rain Rain Beautiful Rain," and "Hello My Baby." This isn't Ladysmith Black Mambazo's only live release; their first live CD, Live at the Royal Albert Hall, was released by Shanachie in 1999 and was followed by a few more live releases in the early to mid-2000s. The Heads Up DVD doesn't offer a lot of surprises if one has been following Ladysmith Black Mambazo for a long time; nonetheless, the performances are consistently pleasing, and this DVD really captures the energy of the vocal group's live show. By giving fans a chance to both see and hear Ladysmith Black Mambazo, the DVD illustrates the amount of enthusiasm that Joseph Shabalala and his colleagues bring to the stage. Although not quite essential, this DVD gets high marks for being consistent, and won't disappoint Ladysmith Black Mambazo's longtime followers.