Wednesday, 7 October 2015

On Stage: Felabration 2015 at Paradiso Amsterdam

It has become a tradition by now to celebrate the life of Fela Kuti in Paradiso in October with the boys of Jungle By Night. Every year there are some special guests to celebrate with us and this year one if them returns. No one less than Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 are here to start off the celebrations.

Felabration at Paradiso Amsterdam, October 3 2015

Seun Kuti & Egypt 80
Last month at the ITGWO festival Fela's youngest son had to be rushed to the island where he played a relatively short set. Tonight there's more time scheduled in which works in their advantage. The group is able to stretch out the songs more and let the afrobeat do what it needs to do: grooving so you have to dance and slip in a trance. Seun is the one who stays the closest to his father's legacy, both in music and form, together with his father's band Egypt 80. Seun Kuti's speeches in between songs are full of political statements, speaking for the African people. He explains his new song 'IMF' stands for "international motherfucker" bringing no good to the people. It's a good song in the true spirit of his father. A few people are shouting that Kuti needs to continue playing and apparently don't get what we are felabrating tonight. Fortunately most people do get it and enjoy the energetic and hypnotic music and the speeches. It's probably not possible to get closer to Fela than this.

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Umeme Afrorave
We go upstairs to the small hall where a new band is playing called Umeme Afrorave. I spot New Cool Collective percussionist Jos de Haas behind the congas which is promising. The Amsterdam band are playing dance music based on traditional African music, which comes down to electronic dance tunes on top of percussion with lots of African influences. It works very well and the clever songs sound energetic, turning the place into one big dance party. I'm definitely going to watch this band.

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Jungle by Night
Of course the young afrobeat collective are on the bill themselves as well and are playing the main hall. The group are an established name by now and are even taking on the world. I have seen them grow from talented young musicians into an experienced group that can turn any place upside down. Tonight they are treating us to a special set with covers of songs that have inspired them. I couldn't really identify most of the songs but of course Fela Kuti's music had to be there and it was nice hearing a great version of the mysterious Nigerian musician William Onyeabor's 'Good Names'. There's another surprise tonight when a 10 year old girl trumpet player is brought onto the stage to play along, as part of a kid's program, and she even plays a wonderful solo. By that time the place is already one big hot dancing hall. At the end there's a jam with members of all bands tonight including Seun Kuti himself. It reminds of Fela's legendary night club The Shrine and I don't think there's a better way to honour his life.

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This night is far from over and by now everywhere in Paradiso people are partying and dancing to afrobeat music. I guess it's safe to say this was probably the best edition so far. See you next year!

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