Spoek Mathambo The Great Hall, Toronto ON March 23

Spoek Mathambo The Great Hall, Toronto ON March 23
The much-hyped and highly anticipated debut Toronto gig by South African MC/producer Spoek Mathambo far exceeded expectations and even threatened to upstage main act Saul Williams, as the eccentric performer touched off a CMW showcase that nearly rocked Toronto's historic Great Hall from its moorings. Against an intoxicating wash of guitar, sax, keys, drums and a bank of effects, the colourful frontman appeared an uncontrollable ball of energy from the word go, rapid-firing his quirky lyrics into two separate effect mics when he wasn't breaking to vibe out ecstatically to the band's volcanic dance grooves. The equally energized crowd gave as good as it got, initiating a bounce that had the flooring of the creaky venue flexing in unison as they followed Spoek's lead through catchy hooks and hand-clap breakdowns. Slower cuts were politely indulged as fans waited for the jump-up rhythms that dominated the set to return, and there was a feeling that the singer's blistering performance was impressively still building steam when word came from the soundman that it was time to shut things down, to the dismay of many. After briefly leaving the stage, the crew received word they could return for one more jam, and they made it count with expected encore track "Let Them Talk," its drawn-out instrumental finale wrapping up what was surely one of the festival's more memorable highlights.