Diáspora from La Soirée Concert Series
Hosted at Cross Street Chapel, Manchester
Reviewed by Yvonne Cawley August 2010
To say I was 'blown away' by the evening's experience is a little bit of an understatement!
I was invited along to La Soiree's concert featuring Diáspora on Friday 27 August at the Cross Street Unitarian Chapel, Manchester. Now I've lived and worked in Manchester all my life but had no idea where the Unitarian Chapel was. Also I must confess that Jazz isn't really my cup of tea, but hey, I'm as open minded as the next gal and so was prepared to give it a shot - gets me out of the house!
Arriving at the venue I was surprised that I had walked passed this building lots of times without really 'seeing' it or realising that it was a place of worship. The entrance is modern and light and extremely welcoming. We were greeted by a couple of friendly ladies who offered us a free glass of very palatable wine and told to make ourselves at home. Whatever picture you have in your mind of what a 'church' is, well rip up that picture.
The interior is stunning - a large white circular room with high ceilings giving a complete feeling of space and relaxation. There are large, grand pillars around the room along with windows dotted around to introduce natural light. The seating was laid out in a relaxed informal style with tables adourned with candles and a few 'nibbles'. People were happy to sit and chat with new arrivals and the whole place had the feeling of being at someone's houseparty.
Why had I never heard of this place before - a real hidden gem? We replenished our drinks and settled back for the second performance. Diáspora took to the stage and the evening really 'kicked-off'. Diáspora are a 7-piece band, billed as being 'one of the most exciting new projects in the contemporary UK Latin scene' and they did not disappoint. The acoustics are great and I was particularly impressed with Rory Duffy's haunting saxophone rifts, coupled with the vibrancy and clarity of the lead female vocalist.
The sexy, up-tempo, Latin American beat soon had the audience tapping in tune, with an adventurous couple taking to the dance floor to show off their salsa style steps. This seemed to pave the way for the other experienced Salsa dancers get in on the action. As a salsa virgin I was in total awe of the way they moved as one entity, syncronising their moves in perfect time with the music - as soon as the first beats of the next song were played they automatically knew what moves to make.
I must admit listening to the fast paced music I just wanted to get up there and join in, but felt inadequate watching the footwork skills on show. Wow, I want to learn how to do that, I have to take Salsa lessons and strut my stuff; maybe it is the new 'Line-dancing' fad but it look so much fun and I want IN.
The whole evening was one of the most entertaining and fun that I have had in a long time. The music, atmoshpere and venue blended so well but unfortunately it was over too quickly. I've looked at the rest of the La Soiree programme of events and will certainly be going along to the next one on the 24 September where Benny Hui and David Tait will be giving an evening of Piano and Poetry - can't wait.
UNITED IN THE LATIN BEAT