I had been looking forward to this gig for a while and it was one of those occasional shows where my Catwoman (a.k.a. my wonderful wife Catherine) joined me. Why does she only come to some? well my taste is ridiculously eclectic, while Catwoman has great taste it is not as wide as mine, so I would never take her to a punk or metal show. But enough of us we were here at the mighty Crescent in York to witness Newen Afrobeat in the flesh. On paper, a Chilean band playing Afrobeat doesn’t sound right, but who cares about paper, on stage, they were something stratospherically special. A combination of Latin rhythms and beats combined with the kind of Afrobeats forged by the late great Fela Kuti was mesmerising and I am pretty sure everyone in the crowd was on their feet for the whole set. At one point there were at least thirteen band members on stage, I don’t think I have ever seen that many people on the Crescent stage! There were drums, percussion, guitars, keyboards, amazing brass, and two incredibly energetic singers who frankly danced the rest of us off the floor!
The band kicked off with an instrumental track before the two singers bounded on stage and upped the already high energy level even more. Their original material is incredible and their covers of Fela Kuti songs are played in such a way that the tunes are taken to another level completely. I have been listening to their ‘Newen Plays Fela’ EPs and they do absolute justice to the master but the live versions are blisteringly good. “Zombie” was an absolutely immaculate performance! Newen Afrobeat has played some huge festivals, including Felabration in Lagos, but seeing a band this good in such an intimate setting makes it a mind-blowing experience. They were joined on stage by a true giant of Afrobeat, Dele Sosimi, for a few songs. Who would have thought that they could sound even better, but they did when Sosimi joined them. I heard on good authority that the band and Sosimi went to Young Thugs Studio in York the next day to record together. I am looking forward to that stuff! The band has quite a few dates left on their European Tour (check the tour poster at the top of this post). If you can get to any of them you really should, this is a band that I suspect could never disappoint even if they tried. Next time they are in my neck of the woods I will be there!
All pictures, except the tour poster, were taken by me using my very cheap Chinese Android phone. The videos were found on YouTube. If the video is yours and you would like a credit or for it to be removed please let me know.
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