AJO concert review – a piece of home transported to London
by - Argjela Mani

Having previously interviewed AJO for O GOCË, it was a real privilege being able to hear her songs live in London last month. In the interview, she told us that she aspires to bring her heritage to life, and she did nothing short of that at her performance at Rich Mix in East London. 

A real credit is also due to the band performing alongside AJO, who beautifully showcased familiar sounds from traditional Albanian music alongside more contemporary sounds. These sounds partnered with the lyrics allowed the audience to be taken on a journey, one that documents the transition from generation to generation. 

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Photo Credit: Albulen Ajgeri

The audience’s journey was also driven by the visuals by Laurent Azemi, whereby various literal journeys through the green and mountainous areas of Kosovo and Albania were projected on-screen as AJO performed songs from her EP, Besa. Hearing covers of traditional folk songs, such as Zare, as well as AJO’s Besa, accompanied by these visuals really created a sense of nostalgia for those of the Albanian diaspora among the audience. 

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Photo Credit: Albulen Ajgeri

The most poignant journey mapped out both visually and sonically for the audience is the one taken by Albanian women in a traditional community. Starting the show with Burrnesha, AJO’s powerful yet delicate voice highlights something quite unique in Albanian culture, the concept of sworn virgins. Through this song, she tells the tale of women who denounced societal expectations by swearing off romantic and/or sexual relationships. Later on, performing Nena, she describes motherhood drawing on her own experiences as a mother, with the visuals translating the lyrics into English. The contrast between the opening song and the song performed about motherhood really signifies the variety that is possible within our culture.

To hear AJO’s work for yourself, check out her latest EP, Besa available on Spotify.