It’s really hard to believe isn’t it? It’s true! Femi and Seun have never played a Live Concert together in their lives. If you are one of the lucky few you might have caught them at the Shrine at Femi’s 50th or even at a family get together but these two scions of the truly iconic Fela Anikulapo Kuti have never professionally graced the same stage – until this Friday!
True, they grew up at different times and, with a twenty year age difference, have not always seen eye to eye. Their music has taken different paths but ultimately starts from the same roots and currently tracks parallel to the same place – Afrobeat.
Femi grew up in Lagos where, at 15, he started playing saxophone in his father’s band, Egypt 80. In 1986 looking for his own identity he formed his own band, the Positive Force. It has certainly been a positive journey since then with two Grammy nominations with Day by Day in 2008 and Africa for Africa in 2010. In 2012 he was both inducted into the Headies Hall of Fame (the most prestigious music awards in Nigeria), was the opening act on the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ European arena tour and became an Ambassador for Amnesty International. He continues to expand the diversity of his artistry on his new album (2013) No Place for My Dream. Femi Kuti is now a judge on Nigeria’s huge TV show Nigerian Idol.
Seun, of course, is the younger brother. He first appeared with his father on stage at 8 years old. When the legendary Fela died Seun was just 14 and stood up to lead this father’s band Egypt ’80, who are still with him today and who hold so many global records such as being the longest continuously performing band in the world. After some years of covering Fela songs Seun developed into a fine composer and producer in his own right and the Friday will see the formal Nigerian release of his third album “A long way to the beginning”. Grounded in Afrobeat but with the addition of production by the jazz tyro Robert Glasper and featuring Moss Def, Blitz the Ambassador and Nneka this album definitely raises the bar. Last year Seun toured with it and played before massive audiences at the Hollywood Bowl, Glastonbury and many global venues.
The tragedy, of course, is that both artists are highly respected across the world and continue to play in front of sell out audiences everywhere. Some how, like the ubiquitous prophet they never seem to be quite as honoured in their own home. Maybe because it is they are often considered too political. But how can they not be? Grandsons of Fumilayo, nephews of Beko, cousins of Wole and finally, sons of Nigeria’s outstanding but outspoken rebel, these brothers can never stray too far from the family tree. Expect this gig to be a show with music grounded in the intensity of this family and with beats to keep you dancing into the early hours. This is one you can tell your children that you were there when Femi and Seun finally mounted that stage together for the first time ever.
Date: Friday, April 24
Place: Eko Hotel & Suites