Mar 27, 2014
Meklit Hadero at SPACE in Evanston on March 25, 2014
Review courtesy of friend and guest blogger, photographer and architect: Becca Waterloo
Three years ago I was introduced to Meklit Hadero at the Old Town School of Folk Music while she was opening for a Ugandan Band. We were prepping ourselves for the East African culture with their sound before our big trip. I was taken aback by her beautiful voice, her flowy colorful dress, a flower in her hair and prancing around on bare feet.
Tuesday night I headed to SPACE in Evanston to see her again, solo, with my concert buddy Melody.
SPACE is a very unique venue, with a restaurant and bar in the front with large floor to ceiling windows. The modernity and feel was welcoming, however their unforgiving policies of no food in the back and segregation of table seating versus general admission made our experience a little bit difficult to inhale our pizzas and forced us to put our 13$ martinis on the ground. If you can afford it, I’d recommend purchasing table tickets to make your life a little bit easier. I was recommended to eat in the front restaurant if time allows, but with no opening act, we were left with no choice but to scarf down our prosciutto and arugula pizza (absolutely amazing…) over our laps. Makes for a fun experience though?
I don’t know why I expected to go into this concert 3 years later hoping to hear the majority of her songs from ‘On A Day Like This’ an album that reminds me of my free thinking college days. It turned out to be the 1 week birthday of her new album release ‘We Are All Alive’. I was impressed to see her transform from her Ethiopian style to having a completely urban pizazz. She had a black and white geometrical tank top and black pants, and no flower in her hair. The shoes were still off though! She even changed her original name Meklit Hadero to just the shortened version, Meklit.
Meklit’s band consisted of a trumpeter, electric bassist, and drummer whom she often gave many solos to throughout the night. Her sound also transformed with her look and name, but still managed to touch upon many of her memories and native sounds of Ethiopia. Her lyrics are extremely poetic and earthly, I found myself swaying in my seat and unpeeled from her animated facial expressions. She was certainly made for the stage, by the end moving her microphone stand away to dance around. Many of her songs had a story, almost half of them reaching back to her roots in Africa.
I appreciate an active performer, interested in the audience and keeping them involved, someone who introduces her band, and is just there to have a great time. I thought it was a superb performance, I give 2 for 2 of the times I’ve seen her, both such dynamic experiences. At the end of the show she immediately hopped to the back of the space to say hello to her fans and sign CDs. Please check her out. I can’t wait to see her career grow, but for now am selfish enough to say I’m glad I get to experience her in these small, intimate venues. It’s the best way to see her!