Sunday, 6 July 2008

Toumani tears, Hypnotic sweats and Tony's bedrock beats - a review of Honest Jon's Cut Up

Apologies in advance most gracious Miss Run Tings, i'll try my best to keep this one brief, cos you were supposed to be there last I'll stick to the highlights of the highlights...or avert your eyes now

Hats off to Damon Albarn and co for getting Honest Jon's off the ground and bringing incredible artists together (check their website for veritably fabulous sounds, everything from Trinidadian calypso to southern soul, Saba disco to Chicago House..). Knowing the Barbican would be a sit-down affair I wondered how they'd stage a sizzla of a one-night only mash-up between the cream of African and renegade Western artists from the Honest Jon's stable. The whole sit-down things well frustrating, but I guess you could argue that it makes you listen in a different way..? err, whatever! The creative encounter made up for it...anyhoo... started as a staid affair until Kipsi Bocoum (above right) leapt up from his seat with a beatific smile and monochord violin in hand and got his groove on to Afel Bocoum's trance-inducing soaring Malian blues. Followed swiftly by the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble chopping and swaying to Tony Allen's pulsating funky-as-f**kness. He ain't even breaking a sweat see!

Toumani Diabate unleashed a celestial waterfall from his kora and I'm not ashamed to admit I cried, no use holding back. For a hearty dose of soul-food go seek The Mandé Variations and be sure to keep your eyes closed, you don't want any other senses in the way.

Candi Staton took the mic like the legend she is and got us all Uhm!!-ing sassily with a searingly gorgeous version of
I'm Just a Prisoner

Mali responded on the soulful diva front with renegade Kokanko Sata Doumbia - armed with a hunters harp (usually reserved for men - respect!). Voice like terracotta earth and an ululation that raised the roof, got bums off seats and the whole house jumping.

It was the after party where things got really sweaty betty...a relentless and electrifying set from Lobi Traore kicked off in the foyer, my limbs were bewitched and couldn't stop moving to his distinctive funky-afrobluesy dare i say house(?!). No time to get a breather before Hypnotic Brass Ensemble hit the stage blazing - I can't hype these guys enough, they don't f**k around, just get your tix for the ICA - you'll thank me.

In Lagos, a chop up is a lavish feast; in dance music culture at large, it means juxtaposition and re-constitution." I'm going back for seconds...thirds...fourths...


  1. i mean it wasn't that good...we'll make up for it at HBE, belieeeeeve!

  2. Oh nooo. But - Yaaayyyyy! We can do the African dad dance and the serious face...



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