Laraaji leaned heavily toward improvisation throughout his set, forsaking the recordings on the Brian Eno-produced Ambient 3 that made him famous in the English speaking world and instead absorbing the night's atmosphere. He performed solo at first, humbly sitting while playing his zither and leaning forward to modify delay chords and tones on his vast pedal board.
About half way through his set, he was joined by members of Not the Wind, Not the Flag on drums, upright bass and electric guitar, and kora player Diely Mori Tounkara. They ably filled out Laraaji's vision, expanding his work into an avant-garde jazz performance that fulfilled the festival's theme of "transculturalism." This was exciting, but it at times it took away from Laraaji, who remained quietly on the floor despite the chaos around him. At one point he left the stage for about five minutes, and his backing musicians took over a little too confidently, eliciting cheers from the crowd. They were in rockstar mode, and he wasn't.
It made for a show that was somewhat torn between a humble virtuoso and a great backing band. Still, the night was thrilling, and no one seemed to walk away unhappy. Laraaji is a man of the moment, and he made last night's moment his own.