Fela Kuti was the pioneer of afrobeat and with their strong horn section blasting over jazz and funk rhythms and heavy use of percussion, it was easy to see where Kokoroko’s influences lay. Their name means ‘strong’ in Urhobo and strong they were.
You could tell that they loved their music by the way they moved, non-stop, in between solos. The saxophonist blew as if it were going to knock him off his feet while the trumpet and trombone solos were more laid back. At times a high electric guitar soared over the rhythms and there was also a dreamy keyboard solo.
They were as popular and danceable as swing and bandleader Sheila Maurice Grey duly lowered the audience to the floor. The trumpeter from Sierra Leone studied jazz through Tommorrows Warriors, an organisation who support female and other young musicians, so it was great to see a female band leader.
The eight piece band got down and funky with ‘Blackout’ which, according to an interview in the Financial Times, is about the electricity cuts in Sierra Leone and having to find things to do (Leke Oso Alabi)
The set seemed rather short but was filled with movement and musical moments that I’m sure inspired other young musicians.