Ibeyi review: Leith Theatre (EIF), Edinburgh, 18 Aug – The Skinny

In their latest album Spell 31, Ibeyi embrace magic. Not necessarily mystical, otherworldly magic, but the type that explains the bonds of sisterhood and a sense of spiritualism passed down through ancestors. Tonight at the Leith Theatre, the twins fill the air with something akin to magic, their magnetism present from that first pulsating beat of lead single Made of Gold. The hook (‘My spell made of gold, gold, gold’) is like an incantation, used by Naomi and Lisa-Kaindé Diaz to entrance and centre the audience before the healing can begin. Because that is exactly what tonight’s gig, and indeed the wider album, is – a vessel for healing. 
In their fusion of electronic, hip-hop and neo-soul with their Afro-Cuban, French, and Venezuelan cultures, the sisters present an eclectic soundscape that forces you to pause and take a breath, offering a moment of levity amongst the chaos. On stage, there is an effortlessness to their partnership as their vocals, along with Lisa-Kaindé’s keys and Naomi’s cajón and batá drums, coalesce seamlessly on tracks like Exhibit Diaz and Stranger / Lover. 
Songs from the new album, like Lavender & Red Roses and Creature (Perfect), are given an entirely new energy live, laying bare their strength as a duo as well as the vulnerabilities that enable their music to salve and empower. Highlights like the poignant No Man Is Big Enough for My Arms, which includes a sample from a Michelle Obama speech, and the haunting harmony-fuelled Oya feel packed with intensity and fervour.

Image: Ibeyi @ Leith Theatre for Edinburgh International Festival, 18 Aug by Jassy Earl
Elsewhere, when the sisters sing the anthemic Deathless, it’s as if every person in the theatre is backing them, especially when they continue the chants of the chorus a capella, the crowd roaring back the song’s cathartic hook. Likewise, earlier single River is an obvious favourite among the audience, as they sing ‘Come to your river, I will come to your river’ like an emotional battle-cry. 
The most touching moment of the evening arrives when the pair perform Spell 31 single Sister 2 Sister, which they describe as their love letter to one another. With lightly choreographed moves and a real tenderness in their performance, it encapsulates their bond and acts as a true celebration of their sisterhood. 
In an interview from earlier this month, Lisa-Kaindé said: “Ibeyi exists live, it takes its strength, its power, and its poetry live. And I live for it. I was born to do it. I was born to sing with my sister on the stage – I know it.” There is no greater evidence of this than tonight at the Leith Theatre. The true magic of Ibeyi’s music lies in this alliance – in Naomi and Lisa-Kaindé’s unique and sublime symbiosis.
Edinburgh International Festival runs at various venues untl 28 Aug; book tickets at eif.co.uk