Saturday May 31 saw Afrobeat legend Dele Sosimi command proceedings for a blistering four-hour set at the New Empowering Church in Hackney.
The evening opened with a DJ set from Koichi Sakai – the resident DJ for Afrobeat Vibration – which set the vibe for what was to come. As the clock struck midnight one wondered whether the orchestra were ever to set foot on the stage, however, when they did, they blew the house down.
The Afrobeat Orchestra consisted of a full horn section, guitars, bass and an incredible percussion ensemble, with the wonderful talent of Brian Taylor playing the chekeré with consummate ease before moving onto the congas as the evening drew on. Dele Sosimi (pictured) commanded the stage throughout, as they moved through pieces from his own repertoire stretching from his early solo releases Turbulent Times and Identity moving right through to new tracks from last year’s release TMI (Too Much Information). As one would expect from the legendary keyboardist for Fela Kuti in his Egypt 70 band, Sosimi payed homage to his bandleader, including a breathtaking 20-minute rendition of ‘Lady’ from the seminal Fela album Shakara from 1972. The Afrobeat Orchestra also performed great versions of the Fela classics ‘Buy Africa’, ‘Zombie’ and ‘Water Get No Enemy’. I recognised the latter song as the first time I (inadvertently) heard Sosimi on record, his keyboard solo being sampled by hip-hop guru Pete Rock on his track ‘Grown Man Sport’ with Ini. The crowd barely thinned right up until 4am, when the band bowed out to rapturous applause.
Sosimi will play at the New Empowering Church again in July and September with the Afrobeat Orchestra.
Click here for more information on his upcoming concerts.