"Kuti, removing his shirt to rapturous cheers, belted out powerful vocals and lyrics alongside several energetic saxophone jaunts."
Despite this year's Perth International Arts Festival soon drawing to a close, Chevron Festival Gardens' line-up is only getting better and better. A crowd of free-flowing spirits and dreadlocks packed the venue on a chilly Thursday night, eager for Seun Kuti & Egypt 80's musical genius for their debut Perth concert.
Waltzing out to a buzzing atmosphere, Egypt 80's keyboardist Lekan Animashaun proudly introduced each member of Kuti's influential orchestra. Diving into their instrumental-based opening track, the group's eclectic aura and style unfolded before us. Animashaun's mantis-like moves and bold vocals kicked off a dance party in the moshpit.
Kuti, son of Afrobeat king and pioneering human rights activist Fela Kuti, received a monstrous reception before leaping on stage. The 33-year-old soon launched into a spine-tingling saxophone solo, dedicating the show to his father. Throughout Mr Follow Follow, the performers transformed the live event into an exotic, immersive experience for Perth music lovers.
The charming, sharply dressed lead singer wooed the audience of loyal followers, gracing the stage with his signature orange microphone, cockerel strut and sheer enthusiasm. Spending quality time with the crowd, Kuti commented on and cracked biting remarks about everything from life in Africa to the International Monetary Fund, Australian wildlife, and the American Dream.
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Despite technical issues, the ensemble's fierce, pacy rendition of IMF showcased an intoxicating, distinctive blend of jazz, funk, and soul flourishes. Kuti's 12-piece group never slowed down, delivering a collection of hyperkinetic guitar chords and percussive riffs. Throughout five- to ten-minute renditions of crowd favourites, rumbling drum lines saw bodies sway and heads bop throughout an infectious 80-minute set.
Kuti and his ensemble showcased an unstoppable array of talents, swaying from sizzling dance numbers to 1950s jazz lounge renditions with ease. Kuti, removing his shirt to rapturous cheers, belted out powerful vocals and lyrics alongside several energetic saxophone jaunts. Trumpeter Oladimeji Akinyele further invigorated the atmosphere with a multitude of catchy solos.
Kuti's pro-marijuana stance dominated the show's soaring climax, turning to "astro-travel" with an extensive rendition of Higher Consciousness. The track's soaring rhythms sent the festival vibe into overdrive, concluding with harmonious chant: "Fight that greed with a higher consciousness." The grand crescendo, featuring trippy visuals and the band's salute, brought Perth and Kutis' undying legacy together.