Soukous legends Zaiko Langa Langa made their New York debut at last. The Congolese band played to a celebratory crowd at (le) Poisson Rouge in Greenwich Village Nov. 27, and we were excited to welcome them to town. Afropop's founding producers Sean Barlow and Banning Eyre saw the group in then-Zaire in 1987, and even if band leader/songwriter Nyoka Longo is the only original member on the tour, Zaiko Langa Langa live is still a force of nature today.
They are a “big band” in every sense. They cast a huge shadow across the continent as influential, stylistic innovators; the band has released more albums than anyone has been able to count, and as the evening wore on, members of the band kept appearing and filling the stage, growing into an entire dancing chorus in front of a sprawling ensemble. The day of the gigantic African dance bands seems to have passed, but as long as they roam, Zaiko Langa Langa will be a testament to their undeniable power and charisma.
Zaiko’s North American tour continues through the end of the year. This band may actually be worth braving a trip to Canada in December.
-Dec. 8: Montreal, Canada
-Dec. 15: Toronto, Canada
-Dec. 29: Dallas, TX
-Dec. 31:, Montreal, Canada