Review: Late at the Library – Felabration! @ British Library (London, 16th October 2015)


It’s not every day that you witness one of the most famous libraries in the UK (and one of the most important cultural centres in London) being transformed into the Shrine, the mythical Lagos club from which the legendary figure of Fela Kuti emerged in the late 1970s – yet that’s what’s happened at the British Library to inaugurate the exhibition entitled ‘West Africa: Word, Symbol, Song.’

The London institution went all the way, reviving the intoxicating atmosphere of the Nigerian music scene in a convincing and appealing way. Indeed the organisers could think of no better way of engaging with the West African tradition than organising an afrobeat ‘grand gala’, inviting some of the finest interpreters of the genre, musicians who had grown up listening to Fela Kuti’s albums. It was up to the audience to do the rest.

An uninhibited and footloose crowd packed the library’s main hall and danced for more than two hours without interruption, not even stopping during the set changes. All the Afrobeat enthusiasts needed was the first song played by Dele Sosimi (who supported Fela playing the keyboard in the Egypt ‘80) and his Afrobeat Orchestra to turn the library main hall into a dance floor. Everybody followed the wild and groovy mood of the event, cheering the rhythmic Nigerian manna flowing from the stage.

As the band-in-residence, Dele Sosimi and his musicians called the shots throughout the show, but more than twenty musicians took turns alongside them to present some of the most popular of Fela Kuti’s songs. Famed performers like Tony Allen (Fela and Africa 70’s drummer) and Nigerian hip-hop star 2face Idibia shared the spotlight with the fresh and talented voices of Terri Walker and Shingai Shoniwa. Together they revived momentous tunes like ‘Zombie’, ‘Kalakuta Show’ and ‘Lady’. Woolwich MC Afrikan Boy set his rhymes free on ‘Blackman’s Cry’, while the remarkable expressiveness of Laura Mvula enriched ‘Opposite People’ and the promising and gifted Trinity College Afrobeat Ensemble blew their brass on ‘Coffin For Head of State’.

The grand finale was characterised by a collective and overwhelming interpretation of ‘Shankara’, paying an exuberant and heartfelt homage to one of the greatest musicians of the 20th century. Felabration finally acknowledged the significance of the afrobeat movement that went – and is still going – beyond musical borders.

Events By These Artists

Date Event name Artist City/Town Venue
29 Jun Love Supreme Festival 2018 Tony Allen Lewes Glynde Place

Content Related To These Artists

Review: Tony Allen & Amp Fiddler @ Ghost Notes (London; Thursday 10th May 2018)

Opening the evening was Mogadisco’s finest selection of African beats, thus setting the scene for the proceeding collusion of cross-border musicians. The left of the stage was set for a legendary Nigerian afro-beat drummer operating with Tony Allen’s full drum kit, whilst the symmetrical spotlight to the right shone upon…

Artists: Amp Fiddler , Mogadisco , Tony Allen

Preview: Love Supreme Jazz Festival @ Glynde Place (Glynde; Friday 29th June to Sunday 1st July 2018)

Set against the backdrop of the historic Glynde Place, Love Supreme has rapidly taken its place amongst the elite summer festivals in the UK. Now in its 6th year, the festival has regularly procured big names in the world of jazz and soul music, and this year is no different….

Artists: Alfa Mist , Ezra Collective , Level 42 , MF Robots , Moses Boyd , Nubya Garcia , Songhoy Blues , The Brand New Heavies , Tony Allen , Zakir Hussain

Album Review: Tony Allen – The Source [Blue Note Records]

Hot on the heels of his highly acclaimed EP, A Tribute To Art Blakey And The Jazz Messengers, drumming legend Tony Allen returns with his wonderfully crafted jazz LP, The Source. Having never truly explored the genre before, Allen has married jazz with his first love, afrobeat, the results of…

Artists: Tony Allen

Review: Jazz Re:Found (Turin, Italy – 7th to 11h December 2016)

Today, black music is warmth, experimentation, crossbreeding, avant-garde, tradition, and rhythm. Turin’s Jazz Re:Found festival explores these definitions, with a curious and forward thinking vision on music, honouring great names of the past while looking at the most current scenes with a sharp eye and sensitive ear. Spread across seven…

Artists: Dj Khalab , Gilles Peterson , Gogo Penguin , Grandmaster Flash , Tony Allen , Underground Resistance , Yussef Kamaal

Review: Felabration 2016 @ Electric Ballroom (London, 14th October 2016)

If you want to pay tribute to one of the most renowned and influential musicians, you need to do it good and proper, and that’s what Dele Sosimi and music partners staged at the Electric Ballroom for Felabration 2016. The London-based Nigerian keyboard player, accompanied by his orchestra and a…

Artists: Afrikan Boy , Bumi Thomas , Dele Sosimi Afrobeat Orchestra , Terry Walker , Tiggs Da Author , Yolanda Brown

There are no comments

Add yours

Get an exclusive FREE compilation album each month compiled by us
Just sign up to our FREE monthly newsletter
Your e-mail address will not be passed on to anyone!
Never display this again