London Afrobeat Collective - Brudenell Social Club, Leeds UK - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

London Afrobeat Collective - Brudenell Social Club, Leeds UK

by Andy Brown Rating: Release Date:

It’s Thursday night and my energy reserves are running particularly low, thankfully I’m heading to the Brudenell Social Club for a night crammed full of afro-fusion sounds. It doesn’t take a genius to work out where the London Afrobeat Collective hail from and what kind of music they play. This information, however, won’t prepare you for the party to come.

Getting us nicely limbered up for tonight’s headliners come Leeds/ Bradford Afro-fusion outfit, Kontiki. The 6-piece band utilise drums, congas, bass, sax and two guitarists to create an energetic and relentlessly rhythmic, highlife sound. In other words, this isn’t the kind of gig where you’ll be staring at your shoes all night.

There’s something natural and effortless about the way the music tumbles and flows; the likes of ‘Closed Circuit’ fusing On the Corner style funk with catchy sax motifs, chants and ever-shifting grooves. Bright and intricate lead guitar, dance-inducing percussion and an explosive, improvisational-feel that makes it all feel so fresh.

The room starts to move to the music as old friends embrace on the dancefloor. Who knew Thursday’s could be this fun? The superb ‘Super Fuji Garbage’ manages to introduce a little dub into the mix while the joyful ‘Turbo Jitney Stomp’ sounds about as far away as you can get from a cold evening in West Yorkshire. Dancing seems like less of an option and more of a necessity.

“We’ve come here to show you the music” begins magnetic London Afrobeat Collective vocalist Juanita Euka “for the grooves for you to move”. The intention is crystal clear from the start; they want everyone dancing. And dance we will.

The stage comes to life as the band break into the driving funk of ‘All You Need is Air’. A euphoric and overwhelming sound comprised of guitars, congas, drums, trumpet, tenor and baritone sax, bass and Euka’s incredible vocals. Band and audience move as one, the pull of the music too much for anyone to resist.

A conduit for the bands relentless energy, Euka is an animated and commanding presence throughout. The vocalist has us clapping, waving, thrusting and dancing along to every funk-filled groove.

The likes of ‘Tolembi’ and the ridiculously funky ‘They Come & They Go’ act as an energising and inspiring shot in the arm. The momentum acting as a rhythmic call to action. Euka radiating energy and positivity as sax fiend Klibens Michelet struts around the stage.

“The next song is really important to us” Euka tells us before the band kick into the powerful protest of ‘Prime Resources’. Dedicated to Euka’s home, the Democratic Republic of the Congo; the lives lost in the civil war and the ongoing struggle. You can feel the passion and anger as the evocative chant echoes through the room, “you’ve got blood on your hands”.

The defiant, impassioned groove of ‘Power to the Women’ elevates the entire room, channelling the great Nina Simone as the band chant “Power! Power to the women!” Every time you think the band can’t possibly take things up another level, they do. They wrap things up with a nod to their Afrobeat heritage by covering ‘Zombie’ by the mighty Fela Kuti.

Unable to stand by and simply observe, there’s been a genuinely joyful, communal feel to the whole night. A sense that we’re all involved. It’s hard to believe I felt tired at the start of the night as I haven’t stopped moving.  Like all good music should, both acts tonight managed to bring the room together and create something truly special.

Comments (0)

There are no comments posted here yet