Excerpt from a review in the Guardian of their Barbican show...
This was a remarkable night for Clement Melome. It was his 65th birthday, and the singer and saxophonist celebrated by performing with his Orchestre at their first ever UK appearance, 41 years after he founded the band in Cotonou, in the west African state of Benin.
He had a lot to live up to. He and his band were introduced on stage as "the next big thing on the world music circuit". Did they justify such a build-up? Well, nearly – this was a slick, original, crowd-pleasing show, with good-natured music designed for the dancehall.
There were 11 musicians on stage, with guitars, keyboards, and a three-piece brass section that included Melome, along with two other male singers. The songs were driven by light, slick percussion work provided by a drum kit, congas and a variety of hand drums, helped out by some impressive keyboard and bass work. The insistent rhythms (which had links to Benin's voodoo traditions) were interspersed with a dash of Latin influences, afrobeat, and the taut funk riffs that provided a reminder of James Brown's influence in west Africa. This was stirring, gloriously rhythmic big band music, and the best of their cheerfully melodic, funky and galloping songs sounded like the soundtrack to some unlikely African cowboy movie.
Download "Malin Kpon O" below