It was with heavy hearts that we headed down the motorway to Brighton for the last night of the tour, and the sense that something wonderful was coming to an end hung tangibly between us all.
However, this was slightly alleviated by the BEST LOAD-IN EVER. It may seem trivial to you, but after two decades of gigging it was an absolute dream to be able to park right opposite the stage door and trundle the harp a few feet to the back of the stage. I even took a photo for posterity:
The venue was amazing too – we were playing in the Corn Exchange – part of the venue complex by the Pavilion:
Kath checks out the dressing room:
And I check out the rider – they had Montezuma dark chocolate buttons!!
We went to an amazing toastie shop in the South Lanes for a late lunch:
Awesome hot chocolate!
Unfortunately Stephen came a cropper right before we went on stage, falling down a carelessly opened hatch backstage in the dark and badly grazing and bruising his leg.
Like the true professional he is, he carried on regardless and we played really well. Toumani joined us for our last song – the Be Mankan/Love Will Tear Us Apart medley, and our harp/kora duet was probably the best of the tour.
Yet again, Toumani played a corking set:
As an encore he was joined on stage by another kora player – Baboucar Konte – and a fantastic singer (who also plays kora), Jali Fily Cissokho. The two harps blended seamlessly together, and the singer’s voice was magical:
Here’s some Youtube footage of their performance (It’s a bit shakey, mind):
But that wasn’t enough for the last night, so as a final encore Toumani was joined by Stephen for a performance of “their” song:
And then it was over. All that remained was to head backstage for some sad goodbyes (though we hope they’re more ‘au revoir’ than farewell forever) and take a few photos for posterity:
Here’s me and the main man: Toumani Diabate – kora maestro and one of the most amazing musicians I’ve ever had the privilege to meet and perform with. And he was *lovely*: