Amadou and Mariam have had a truly unique rise to global acclaim. They met at Mali’s Institute for the Young Blind, united through the Institute’s Eclipse Orchestra and shortly as husband and wife. Following their French breakthrough in 1998, they have brought enchanting African blues and a melange of global instrumentation to stages alongside U2, Blur and Coldplay.
Last year, their vivacious seventh album Folila delivered guest spots from Santigold, TV on the Radio, and Jake Shears from Scissor Sisters. Now Amadou and Mariam reflect on their life in music by bringing a fascinating sensory experiment to Australia.
Eclipse tells their story through select songs, sounds and even smells from their hometown of Bamako. But no visuals. Crowds absorb life as they have – in pitch darkness.
Amadou tells Time Out through an interpreter that he still marvels about the changes that they have experienced across their musical journey, and each song was chosen as a worthy representation of those phases. While Amadou is a fine guitarist, he admits that it was a complicated process getting his band to play without sight.
Thankfully, fans raved to Amadou during the UK and French runs of the show about the completely original way of listening, letting imagination overcome visual distractions. This is aided by piping in the spirited sounds and scents of street life to complete the picture of what Amadou says is a “usual day” in Mali’s capital city.
He says Eclipse aims to educate listeners on all the challenges they have had to face across their career. What better way to learn than to empathise with their pure joy in sound?