Fri May 18, 2018

Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 (NIG/GB)

Seun Kuti, youngest son of late and great Fela Kuti, will be taking the stage at North London’s iconic Islington Assembly Hall for a once in a lifetime rare and intimate show. Egypt 80, the same band that was fronted by his legendary father, will be joining him on stage to get the audience dancing the night away.
After the release of his now renowned album Africa With Fury: Rise, Seun Kuti, who started performing by his father’s side at only 9 years old, proved that he not only inherited his father’s talent but also his passion and anti-establishment fury. Kuti’s most recent album, A Long Way to the Beginning, has also gained critical acclaim. The songs are faster, harder, beautifully intricate and, as always, defiantly political.
Egypt 80, astoundingly good musicians in their own right, will work with Kuti to deliver explosive power filled with wild, funky energy and deliciously compelling rhythms. Together, they will bring Fela Kuti’s afrobeat legacy to life, all while spinning his classic Afrobeat sound into the modern era.

„You could take the fact that Seun Kuti, not his older brother Femi, heads Egypt 80 as conclusive evidence that he is the baton-bearer for Fela Kuti’s legacy” –The Quietus

Last June (2015), Seun Kuti played to a huge festival crowd at Glastonbury, but here the youngest son of Nigeria’s musical and political revolutionary Fela Kuti was in a far more intimate setting, at Ronnie Scott’s in London. The result was intriguing. This was a sometimes triumphant, sometimes awkward show in which he showed how he has developed Fela’s Afrobeat style, but was less successful when it came to following his dad’s political stance.

An exhilarating opening saw 13 musicians, singers and dancers crammed on stage for an easygoing workout led by Fela’s keyboard player Lekan Animasahun, before Seun came on, starting, as he always does, with one of his father’s songs. Opposite People is a defiantly cheerful piece written in the late 70s in the aftermath of the Nigerian army’s brutal attack on Fela’s compound. Seun sang it superbly. A tall, athletic figure, he leaped around the stage as if he was still at Glastonbury, his band impressively tight.

Kuti then switched to five songs from his latest album A Long Way to the Beginning. IMF, “international motherfuckers”, was another stomping, funky workout that included his first saxophone solo of the night. It was a musical success, but encouraged the first of his lengthy diatribes, in which he sexism, racism and corruption rather than discussing what Fela might have thought of Nigeria’s new president, and he praised Mugabe while criticising Mandela, but the audience failed to react.

By the end, he took off his shirt, to show off his tattoo “Fela Lives”, and dance across the stage for a finale of Kalakuta Boy. It had been an entertaining set, but less rhetoric and more musicianship would have been welcome. (Robin Denselow)