Anthony Joseph & Roselien @Botanique Rotonde Brussels – 18 April 2014


VW Spring Sessions festival is recognized for putting together a variety of styles with artists less known in the mainstream zone, bringing each year a line-up of extreme quality. The concert of Anthony Joseph was no exception.

The opening act was Roselien. Roselien Tobbackx is a young and talented singer-songwriter coming from Leuven. On stage by herself with a red guitar, she performed several own compositions with an impressively confided voice and high accurate execution. She fills in the room with a classy sound, not in the old fashion folk style but with modern compositions on classical themes as love and passion. Her last song was quite breathtaking and innovative: she put her guitar aside to do an impressive performance of live looping, recording her voice and playing it back in real-time to create beautiful, distinctive sounds and ambiance. The setlist: A Pure Lover /// Rhythm Under My Skin /// Truth /// Looking For The Truth /// I Can’t Help It /// I Can Feel You /// Indian Dance.

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photo: JP Daniels

On Anthony Joseph, I didn’t know anything before last night, but one simply cannot refuse the opportunity of attending a spoken-word performance, especially when it comes in an exotic flavor: he was born in Trinidad.

He told us what his music was in terms of styles: calypso, funk and soul music and cited Gil Scott-Heron among his influences when it comes to the social and political message. Indeed, each song tells a story and has a message, backed-up by very good instrumentalists: a percussionist, a drummer, bass and keyboards. Yes, no guitar, but who needs one when you have this powerful rhythm section and such voice and lyrics to conquer the audience? Afro-Caribbean music performed so well and so lively, combined with the asynchronous and mad piano sound from the keyboards and fused with realistic but full of hope lyrical content.

His poems (he does not call them songs and he is quite right in doing so) tell real and personal stories, inspired by social and political issues of our times.

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photo: JP Daniels

“Shine”, written for a friend living in Berlin, is an invitation to shine on no matter the mental or physical place we might me in. A beautiful and subtle invitation to rediscover within us the quality of life of a Sunday morning at the country side in opposition with the modern life in big cities that everyone craves for.

“Girl with a grenade” is written and dedicated to Malala Yousafzai with the beautiful explanation that if we have children like her it means the future is in good hands.

“Hustle to live” is a song for all immigrants leaving their country in search for a better job, “working from 9 to 9”, struggling to raise enough money for them to go back home and make a better living there. But in meantime, they just hustle to live and, without even knowing it, they slowly become part of the system.

“Joy” is a poem meant to celebrate happiness in its pure form, a preaching for feeling the music and rhythms regardless of whatever it may be happening in our lives right now.

“Kezi” is a controversial real story about a woman in Trinidad, single mom of 9 children, who is thrown in jail for not being able to take care of them by the society standards.

The end of the show was incendiary, people were already dancing and celebrating what was happening on stage, a state of spirit which continued during the encore.

With Anthony Joseph I have discovered a modern story teller, artist and poet of a tender objectivity where both realistic pain and sympathy for the protagonists coexist.

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