She remembered it. Grammy-winning African star Angelique Kidjo remembered the last time she had played at the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis 25 years ago.
She recalled it for two good reasons: She had just given birth to her daughter about 10 days earlier and she got to hang out at Paisley Park with Prince.
When Kidjo returned to the sold-out Cedar on Tuesday night, it was to explore something from the past – Talking Heads’ “Remain in Light” album from 1980. Last year, she recorded her own interpretation of that Afrobeat-influenced project.
Backed by a fine five-man international band, the Benin-born, New York-based Kidjo did not simply do a re-creation of Talking Heads’ album as she had on record. Rather she offered several of the Rock Hall of Fame band’s tunes with a few of her own pieces mixed in.
Once again, Kidjo proved to be a dynamic dervish, as she has in performances at the O’Shaughnessy, the Dakota, the Ordway and Xcel Energy Center (opening for Josh Groban) since that first Cedar appearance.
Her dancing was energetic and athletic (with a few jittery David Byrne-like moves inserted for fun), her voice joyous and soulful, her personality vivacious and contagious.
However, she wasn’t as thrilling as on her “Remain in Light” record. Why? Largely because there was no horn section. The arrangements were not as complex, thick and rich as on record, the sound not as full and forceful. For instance, “The Great Curve” lacked the layers of countermelodies but featured plenty of percolating percussion.
Kidjo did selections from her own repertoire, including the sing-along “Afirika” (she taught everyone the words) and “Tumba,” during which she brought more a dozen concertgoers onstage to dance, giving each a chance to bust a move at center stage. She also offered a rendition of the 1967 Miriam Makeba classic, the bright and buoyant “Pata Pata.”
While those numbers were received enthusiastically, it was the Talking Heads favorites – the swirling “Once in a Lifetime” and the Afro-funky “Houses in Motion” – that earned the biggest cheers during the 85-minute performance.
For her encore, Kidjo did not stick with “Remain in Light.” Instead she turned to Talking Heads’ next album to deliver a version of 1983’s “Burning Down the House.” It was so intense and incendiary that no one was complaining.