Tony Allen Moves Souls @ Electric Brixton

Last Friday 29th November Soundcrash presented a night of Afro-Jazz, alongside an amalgamation of a whole host of other genres. The night saw countless performers, artists, vocalists and musicians gracing the busy stage from sun-down until the early hours. The line-up was colossal to say the least. Headlined by Tony Allen, without whom “there would be no Afrobeat”, according to legend of the scene Fela Kuti. The rest of the evening was filled with musicians who have been inspired by this music in one way or another, mixing it with other genres and taking it wonderfully into the future. Touching Bass, a ‘musical movement’ formed of Errol and Alex Rita, opened the evening softly with their neo-soul/jazz style and Awalé shortly followed with some Senegalese soul, successfully capturing the undivided attention of the ever-growing crowd.

By 10pm the venue was full of energy ready for Nubiyan Twist to take the stage. Despite the youth of this London/Leeds based 10-piece group they have already enjoyed success after success: signed to Strut Records and having just released their second album ‘Jungle Run’. The talent amongst the bandmembers was clear in the game of musical chairs they played with the various instruments dotted about the large stage, ready for them to lay the base for the range of vocalists that accompanied the band. Their style encapsulates the best bits of so many genres: jazz, soul, reggae, Latin and, obviously, Afrobeat. I’m sure it was a dream come true to share the stage with the artists like Tony Allen that have undoubtedly played a part in forming their music. Mercury-Prize nominated vocalist Cherise Adams-Burnett joined the band on stage for the last few songs. Her singing was powerful and her performance emotive, with personal and poetic lyrics connecting with every member of the audience.

After a short interval from the magnanimous Global Roots, by 1am it was time for the headliner.

Photo by Jens Thekkeveettil


Tony Allen took his prided place on the drums, Dele Sosimi on the keys and Femi Elias on the guitar and Bukky Leo joining them too. They all had a go on the vocals, but Allen’s deep tones stood out amongst the rest. This group marked the reunion of 3 other members of the renowned Fela Kuti’s Legendary Afrika 70 band for this unique event. The group was effortlessly tight, it was obvious that they’ve been playing together for umpteen years and have come to know each other on the stage well. No phones were out in the diverse crowd – just plenty of mis-match dancing to all the different beats that filled the ornate Electric Brixton.

On the decks were Global Roots, Lexus Blondin, Alex Rita and Errol who took turns filling in the gaps, keeping the crowd entertained during intervals. Each DJ did their part in keeping the party going until the very end of the night with their high-tempo grooves and raucous beats. Tony Allen continues to beat the drum for the legendary roots of Afrobeat, and Nubiyan Twist are taking that beat to new plains.

For more cutting edge coverage of the contemporary scene from Flora Bedford, see below for neo-disco:

Wait, Disco is Alive? “Still Beating!” says Flora Medford

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