Montreux Festival confirms appetite for live music

Fri Jul 16, 2010 5:36am EDT
 
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By Jason Rhodes and Stephanie Nebehay

MONTREUX, Switzerland (Reuters Life!) - The small-scale but often exclusive concerts at the Montreux Jazz Festival, now in its 44th year, continue to be packed even as shows in massive venues are feeling the economic pain.

Listeners are still paying top-dollar for tickets to hear big names play in the festival's intimate halls, which boast exceptional sound quality and are set in idyllic surroundings on the shores of Lake Geneva with views across to the Alps.

The 16-day Swiss event ends on Saturday with a concert by filmmaker Roman Polanski's wife, the French actress and singer Emmanuelle Seigner, who opens for Katie Melua, after hosting a diverse range of artists from rock, jazz and world music.

Seigner's appearance is likely to attract heightened media attention as the Oscar-winning Polanski has not been sighted since authorities released him from house arrest at his chalet in the Swiss ski resort of Gstaad on July 12.

Polanski, 76, was held for 10 months while Swiss authorities decided whether to extradite him to face sentencing in the United States for having sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977.

As well as major headlining acts like Phil Collins, Roxy Music, Norah Jones and Keith Jarrett, the festival's highlights included special events that gave audiences a chance to see famous artists play together on the same stage.

On July 9, Benin's Angelique Kidjo led one such event, an all-star tribute to her idol, Miriam Makeba, who died in late 2008. Makeba, known affectionately to fans as "Mama Africa," spent three decades exiled from her homeland, South Africa, after becoming a prominent voice against apartheid.

"She was a mother to all besides being Miriam Makeba and she would share things with you," Faith Kekana, a singer who worked closely with Makeba, told Reuters, adding that the South African star would often cook for musicians at her home instead of rehearsing as planned. "She was humble."   Continued...

 
<p>Senegalese singer Youssou N'Dour (L) and Angelique Kidjo from Benin perform onstage during the 44th Montreux Jazz Festival in Montreux July 9, 2010. REUTERS/Valentin Flauraud</p>