During his sold out US tour, Seun Kuti’s Los Angeles stop drew in a massive crowd at ‘The Novo’, downtown Los Angeles.
People of all races came to witness this iconic, high energy live performer, who has basically become the closest thing to his legendary dad – Fela, do what he knows how to do best.
The epic show opened with a DJ serenading the audience with a couple of Naija jams. You bet the excitement seeing caucasian attendees dancing to Davido’s “Fall” or Wizkid’s “Ojuelegba”
A member of Seun’s band took up from there, delivering great acoustic songs which waltzed into acapella-like renditions that pretty much provided all that was needed to wet everyone’s appetite.
Much later, the same band member introduced the rest of the ‘Egypt 80’ band members to the stage, before the phenomenal Seun was finally introduced with a rapturous welcome to the stage.
And the main show began!
I never listened to Seun’s music before, and i didn’t know the words to most songs, but seeing this icon play with passion and the excitement everywhere got me partying it up with people of diverse race and colours (Africans, Asians, Americans) at the upper chamber (which was times four of the regular ticket).
The high point of his set list was this poignant song which he dedicated to the memory of his father – Fela, and the Los Angeles populace, “For taking my father in and providing him a platform for his performance”, Seun mentioned. I don’t recall the exact year, so this is off the record, I can’t remember the title either, but it was aimed at paying homage to Fela’s legacy.
It’s worth mentioning that even though Seun is an established artiste in his own right, his performance was akin to Fela’s in terms of knowledge of the musical instruments, stamina to perform long hours without wearing thin, his charismatic charm and also, his ability to pass across his message and engage with his audience.
It was about 2 hours of intensive performance, with beautiful choreographed African traditional dances; keeping all those in attendance on their feet as their bodies swiftly moved to the rhythm of Afro beats supplied by Seun Kuti and Egypt 80 (His father’s band which he has taken up and led to tours across the world).
Seun is a vocal proponent of pan-Africanism which he says is the endorsement of “black ability” and not the replacement of white supremacy with black supremacy
He however believes, through the speech he gave before the performance of his highly received “African Dream” that imperialism and Elitist manifestation is united at the top and must be fought against by those who remain conscious of the human spirit.
Another high point was when he rounded up his performance with his legendary salute of “two fists thrown into thin air, his tattooed back to the rapturous voices of the wowed audience” amidst repeated chants of “More! More!! More!!!” filling the air as the show ended with great energy. He wrapped it up with sincere thanks to those in attendance, “You guys always bring me back every six weeks!” he screamed on-stage.
At the end of the show, I must confess that Seun was excellent.
Filling up an arena that big, the massive out pour of love demonstrated by an audience who belted his songs along with him – it just goes to show that he is widely loved.