If the four South African Kongos brothers are egomaniacs, as the name and theme of the new album/ tour suggests, then they may have earned it. Kongos proved their greatness on October 9th with an unforgettable performance at the Danforth Music Hall for their Egomaniac tour.
The night began with an energetic performance from Welsh rock trio The Joy Formidable. Their set included a lot of intense dancing from lead singer Rhiannon “Ritzy” Bryan, remarkable drumming from Matt Thomas who’s rig included 5 symbols and a giant gong for that clashy symbol smashing goodness, a song sang in the welsh language (the first language of bassist Rhydian Dafydd) and some fun banter about goats. It is rare to find an opening band that doesn’t have me wishing that the headliners would just come on soon at some point during their set, but The Joy Formidable had me 100% enthralled and I found myself wanting even more after their six song set was over. I would definitely go see them again!
I honestly didn’t think that Kongos could possibly put on a better show than they did in the same venue back in 2015, but with a fresh stock of upbeat songs and a new light show that could make the night sky jealous, they did just that. There were all sorts of lights all over the stage placed specifically to contribute to the movement and energy of the band and were timed with the music perfectly. To add to this, there were three huge screens playing stunning visuals that went with each song.
As always, Jesse’s drums were placed up at the front of the stage providing a good view of Kongos impressive style of Burundi influenced drum beats. And as if merely having an accordion on stage isn’t cool enough, Johnny’s new accordion had the cover of Egomaniac on it, just another aspect added to his already impressive ability to absolutely rock accordion solos in songs like “Come With Me Now” or “Birds Do it.”
As they do on the album, all brothers took turns having lead vocals providing each song with their unique sound. On their delightful cover of “Get Back” by the Beatles they even had their talented tour manager (and the absolute nicest person ever) Mo Gordon as a guest rapper which was definitely one of the highlights!
The perfectly paced setlist was mostly made up of Egomaniac with five favourites from Lunatic scattered around including classic crowd pleaser “Come With Me Now,” “I’m Only Joking” as the fake last song, and “Escape” during the encore. To finish off the night they performed their own Kongos spin of “Blue Monday” by New Order.
As a souvenir I was lucky enough to get the setlist which immediately became my favourite in my collection. In between songs were what I can only assume are hilarious gag stage directions including “Greet the crowd. Remember to try to appear humble yet confident”, “Band: Thank Mo Gordon for coming up. Mo: Tell the guys how awesome they are”, “Set’s almost done. Crew: Compliment the band on what a great set they’ve had so far”, and before the encore “Monitor Engineer: Turn crowd mic up really loud in band’s ears. Band: Don’t wait too long in case crowd leaves” and finally “***IMPORTANT*** Do not throw set lists out to crowd”.