LIVE REVIEW: Seun Kuti, Ladies of Midnight Blue @ Sage Gateshead (03.05.18) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image by Joe Fowler

Music is entertainment, yes, but music can also contain a message.  It can be developed as a tool to make political or social points, and certainly in the case of tonight’s show, educate and inspire.

Anybody local to the North East who has dipped even the smallest tippy toe into the live music scene will be aware of Hannabiell and Yilis, the Ladies of Midnight Blue, and will know that their infectious enthusiasm is a driving force for good, manifested in their incredible drumming skills along with the ubiquitous Tyler (HB’s trombone).  This enthusiasm led them to support one of world music’s leading activists, Seun Kuti, son of Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti.  His set, backed by the original Afrobeat band, Egypt 80, featured searing sax solos and heartfelt songs coming directly from protest culture. 

You might read this with a furrowed brow; it is serious, but the performance was anything but.  Smiling was unavoidable, and dancing, a literal knee-jerk reaction aided by the dancers/BVs onstage, whose moves were definitely twerking for the amateur photography enthusiasts present.  The only person who seemed not to enjoy the gig was the woodblock player, who by the way, was my absolute favourite Egypt 80 member on the night (#facelikethunder). A supreme horn section and beat-perfect percussion quartet provided Seun with the ideal platform to honour his father’s legacy by taking Afrobeat to another level.  If Seun had the platform Kanye West does, the world would be a better place.

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