Femi Kuti – review, Southbank Centre

Published: Wednesday, June 15, 2016 9:18 AM | Review by: Uchenna Izundu |
Femi Kuti at Southbank Centre (c) Adam Weatherley
Femi Kuti at Southbank Centre (c) Adam Weatherley

Femi Kuti’s medicine for the intense performance was the audience’s love that charged him to stomp on stage like a tense, coiled spring – chasing Africa’s demons away with his pow wow beats.

Son of the infamous Afrobeat originator Fela Kuti, Femi’s talents have been recognised by two Grammy nominations and sold out shows. His collaborations illustrate a spectrum of musical styles from hip-hop artists Common, Mos Def, and soul singer Jaguar Wright.


As Kuti approaches his 54th birthday this month, he cuts a lithe, impassioned figure lamenting at Africa’s contradiction: blessed with an abundance of natural resources and a youthful population and yet ravaged by poverty, corruption, and suffering.


Femi Kuti at Southbank Centre (c) Adam Weatherley
Femi Kuti at Southbank Centre (c) Adam Weatherley

Kuti shared two evocative tracks from his forthcoming album. The raw, unbridled energy was particularly striking considering that the afrobeat performer had just been knocked out by flu.

Despite several decades of independence, many former Commonwealth nations have failed to provide decent healthcare, infrastructure, and economic opportunities for their citizens. Kuti was angry that President Buhari of Nigeria did not demand an apology from prime minister David Cameron who was caught remarking off camera that Nigeria was “fantastically corrupt”. Kuti challenged the audience as to whether president Obama would take that kind of insult: “It’s like saying that all Americans are drug addicts.”


Femi Kuti at Southbank Centre (c) Adam Weatherley
Femi Kuti at Southbank Centre (c) Adam Weatherley

Kuti has a firm following here, fist pumping him at the front of the stage, who were not afraid to shake a tail feather in the aisles, doorways, and walkways – to hell with health and safety and obstructing sitting fans. Slamming those drums will impose toned biceps by force and the swinging brass section compel the waist to gyrate; no matter how much cod liver oil one's joints require to keep up with the sizzling dancers. Pained by the lyrics of Kuti’s repertoire, there is a heady romanticism about Africa that simplifies the multiple languages, cultures, history, and personalities.


This has been a tough year with his manager dying of cancer: Kuti shared two evocative tracks from his forthcoming album. The raw, unbridled energy was particularly striking considering that the afrobeat performer had just been knocked out by flu after landing in London. Kuti joked with the audience that if he died in this city Nigerians back home would accuse the British of killing him. What was his medicine for the intense performance was the audience’s love that charged him to stomp on stage like a tense, coiled spring – chasing Africa’s demons away with his pow wow beats.


Femi Kuti at Southbank Centre (c) Adam Weatherley
Femi Kuti at Southbank Centre (c) Adam Weatherley

Info: Femi Kuti was at the Southbank Centre on June 11, 2016 | More details




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