London Afrobeat Collective
Aberdeen Jazz Festival
by Bianca Rhodes
Exhilaration, enthusiasm, and the sheer joy of life filled the Lemon Tree on Thursday night, when the London Afrobeat Collective played a spectacular show. Thoroughly faithful to Afrobeat, and clearly devoted to the sound of 70s legend Fela Kuti, they crafted a powerful cocktail of funk, jazz, rock. The night pulsed with an incredible energy, leading the whole audience to dance their socks off.
One might expect that nine musicians on such a small stage might make the performance seem crowded, or simply be too chaotic – that is not the case with this band. It was truly remarkable to witness the harmonious accord within which they all worked, seamlessly connected to each other like the strings of a well-tuned guitar – no one overbearing, no one overcoming the rest. The audience buzzed electric with a primitive sense of communion, coming together at the pounding rhythm of their unique Afrobeat. Stunning, lyrical sax lines interplayed with restless, lively guitars and vigorous percussions to the rhythm of pounding blood. The charismatic lead singer, the cornerstone holding the band together, beautifully managed to enchant the entire audience, who was literally at her command throughout the performance – if she told us to sing, we sang; if she told us to dance, we danced. An engaging, intense, fierce voice, she enflamed the audience with lyrics charged with significance – touching on politics, questions of equality, empowerment, justice. The response of the public was unanimous and heartfelt: that of a rebellious crowd at a political rally – we were ready for a riot.
The London Afrobeat Collective were a strong energy drink filled with irresistible sounds, dancing rhythms and compelling lyrics, who managed to bring together a room of strangers in a cocoon of magnificent music. Definitely a band to remember and seek out for an unforgettable, one-of-a-kind live experience.