After a few years of hearing the reports, I decided it was time to check out Mato Nanji and company for myself. The band filled the amphitheater to capacity and rocked hard from start to finish. Like their latest CD, "Circle," the emphasis was definitely on the rock end of the blues-rock spectrum. Singer/guitarist Mato Nanji, his siblings Pte and Wanbdi (bass and drums, respectively), and their cousin Horse (percussion) were all dressed in black as they came out and got right down to business, opening the show with "Seven Steps Away" from the new CD.
There was a bit of a curiosity at the show that I still can't comprehend. A young boy was playing the congas alongside Horse. He looked to be about eight or nine years old. He held his own pretty well on percussion, but occasionally he would get tired and just pick up a tambourine and start shaking it. Horse kept a watchful eye on the boy, as did Wanbdi. About two-thirds of the way through the show, another young boy came out and attempted to play the congas and the tambourine. This little guy had no clue what he was doing and it was very distracting to have him on stage. The boys were never introduced. (Actually, no one was introduced). It seemed like a bad judgment call to have these kids on stage. I don't know who they were or what the point was, but it really gave an unprofessional air to the performance. It seemed as if the band was doing it as a favor, or maybe for their own purposes (early grooming for future musicians?), but I don't believe the audience-and what they paid for-was considered.
Nearly all the songs were from the new CD, including "Rest of My Days," "You Were the One," and "Little Time." Except for a broken string, Mato Nanji's controlled guitar playing was, in a word, perfect. He definitely leans toward the SRV/Hendix sound, and even his voice is very similar to SRV's, yet "larger"-and I would have to say better. The band closed with a Hendrix medley of "Red House"/"Voodoo Chile."
Indigenous is very good at what they do, but "what they do" is a pretty narrow spectrum. The songs don't vary much in style. It's also apparent that they aren't very comfortable with all the attention yet. Not a word was spoken, and no one was introduced. It would be nice to hear more variety from this band and see them "loosen up" a little bit.
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