Words by Valentina Monsurrò
As part of the EFG London Jazz Festival 2014, Afrobeat legend Tony Allen performed with his band at Village Underground in Shoreditch on Thursday November 20.
The event was sold out and was certainly one of the most awaited and exciting Afrobeat events in London this year. The evening opened with Aziz Sahmaoui & University of Gnawa playing their energetic blend of Moroccan and Senegalese music with jazz and rock influences. The atmosphere warmed up quickly and the venue was completely full by 9pm, when Tony Allen and his band took the stage. Widely known for his career with Fela Kuti and Africa 70, Tony Allen is considered the master drummer of Afrobeat. Since the beginning of his solo career he has been pushing the boundaries of the genre, delving into electronica, dub, R&B and funk.
The band consisted of drums, percussions, guitar, bass, keyboards and horns, and their performance was solid and enthralling; the audience was captivated by the funky grooves of the guitars and the blaring saxophones. Interacting with the other musicians rather than throwing himself into the intricate drum parts, Allen created hypnotic grooves and atmospheres, letting the music do the talking on the stage. The band played longer than expected, stretching from past hits such as ‘No Discrimination’, to more recent tunes from Allen’s latest album Film of Life, such as ‘Tiger Skip’, which opened the gig, ‘Koko Dance’ and ‘Boat Journey’.