There are few things musical that will draw me into going for an event on a weekend, fewer still on a Sunday afternoon. I imagine that like me, some of you haven’t had enough rest this past weekend on account of FOMO. Despite having come from Jah Cure’s concert less than 3 hours ago, I had to attend the 26th edition of the Koroga Festival.
There are different sounds to afrobeat but I am not here to be prescriptive. Having been pioneered by the legendary Fela Kuti, afrobeat is a Kuti genre; one that his sons are now very cogent at. In fact, at some point during his performance, he made it clear that it is Afrobeat and not ‘afrobeats’. Femi and his Positive Force band can play the role and play it did they without any audible tiring.
The Positive Force band opened with a set of rhythm and percussion that was complemented by its horns section. Then came a highly charismatic trio of dancers-cum-percussors-cum-BGVs. Admittedly, from my position adjacent to the stage, this set precedence to an appropriately exciting atmosphere before the moment of the ship’s arrival.
With activism just as important to him, Femi channeled a little of it particularly to those of us who feel compelled to exclude others on the basis of our living standard measures. Thus, unity and the coming together of African people was a recurrent theme being that he is touring his recently released album, One People One World.
Throughout the spirited performance, the flavour of Femi’s music exuded a blend of both vigilance and relaxation. By giving us a feel of the New Afrika Shrine, there was much to admire in the singing, dancing and the band’s dynamic cuts when he performed Evil People, Corruption na Stealing, Beng Beng Beng and the titular track One People One World.
Like any great musical offering, Femi is a master in his own right holding the world record for the longest note ever sustained on the saxophone – at 51 minutes and 35 seconds. In a show of great mastery, a taste of this was something we were later treated to.
The striking moment, however, was when he staged a duet with his son Made Kuti before putting him on the spotlight. Made offered a generous and finely contrasted sax performance but that possessed many of the Kuti musical virtues. Impressive in his style and temperament, I can safely say that I am excited for his debut album to be released next year.
Femi ended the show with a hilarious aside. By intimating that some parents may have conceived to his 1998 song Beng Beng Beng, he was adept and quick to highlight the sexual impropriety and irresponsibility plaguing our societies today. A fitting conclusion to a mighty fine time on stage.
Most definitely a rewarding evening, Femi unquestionably did what he came here to do. If the event remained in any way unsatisfactory, that is in no way to be attributed to Femi whose performance rose above expected. Additionally, Them Mushrooms, Jua Cali and Samidoh came with favourable stage and vocal impressions and there could be no doubting their enthusiasm.