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African chants in spirited performance

Ladysmith Black Mambazo

Ladysmith Black Mambazo

Playhouse, Edinburgh

Rob Adams

It SAYS much about the blueprint Joseph Shabalala created for Ladysmith Black Mambazo and the way in which this wonderful choir has evolved that new members have arrived and older ones retired over time and yet the sound of voices blending like vapours intermingling has remained its trademark.

The longest serving of the current edition, which now includes four of Shabalala's sons and one grandson, has been present since 1969 and it might also say something about the energy-giving properties of their South African hymns and chants of celebration that he's as much of a livewire as the handspringing, break dancing newer kids on the block.

There's a spirit-lifting quality in sentiment as well as tone as the nine voices coalesce on songs that embrace equality and peace and get into more mischievous territory, with the interlocking locomotion of their movements adding emphasis and theatre.

Occasionally the choruses go on a little bit. But even their announcement of an intermission, with the corresponding invitation to save them taking their merchandise home again, is carried off with an element of fun. Homeless, the song that set them on the way to becoming the international touring act they are today, was powerful and for all the fame that has resulted from the latter song's association with Paul Simon, there's a sense of where it all began with a miners' song.

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