On Saturday, I had the pleasure of seeing Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 with my girlfriend and my brother at Helsinki Hudson. As soon as we found out that Seun & Egypt 80 were going to be playing in Hudson, we knew we had to go. The venue was packed with people, young and old who were ready to dance. Once the band came out, the roof came off. The large group of Fela’s surviving Egypt 80 band quickly filled the small stage. They kicked off a number and got the Afrobeat grooves flowing through our systems. The two female backup singers came on next and Seun was soon to follow.
Seun & Egypt 80’s live presence cannot be understated. The band was on fire the entire evening, with each member locked into the hypnotic Afrobeat that Seun’s father, Fela, made famous. They cooked through song after song, slowing things down and speeding things up, making the music irresistible to dance to. Each horn player got a spotlight where they would come to the front of the stage while Seun would take his place in the horn section. Seun is one of the most energetic band leaders I’ve ever had the pleasure to witness live. He gets the whole audience going with his words, his saxophone and his movements. You know things are really starting to groove when he looks around and smiles at his band and the audience before he launches into a frenzied dance.
The group’s latest record is From Africa with Fury: Rise on Knitting Factory Records. This is Seun’s second major release and this album finds the band getting the most out of the recording session with assistance by Brian Eno and John Reynolds. On his previous record, Many Things, Seun wasn’t as confident in his ability to convey the message he wanted people to hear. On From Africa with Fury: Rise, Seun has found everything he wants to say and he does so with assurance and confidence.
“In Africa today, most people are struggling in silence. The systematic oppression of the people has made them blinded to their reality. Everybody’s just thinking about survival. Nobody wants to stand up for anything, everybody just wants to tow the line. So I’m trying to make people think about these things that they are forgetting. I want to inspire people to want things to change.” – Seun Kuti
Everyone couldn’t believe how much time had passed when the band played their final song. Luckily for us, Seun & Egypt 80 came out for a nice encore and the place was buzzing with amazement. Some folks knew what to expect, while others were simply stunned by what they had witnessed. All in all, this show ranks as one of the top performances I have ever seen. Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 are currently on the road, so take a look at the tour dates and make plans to see this amazing band as soon as possible. To get a taste of From Africa with Fury: Rise, watch the video for “Rise” below.