Review by Emily Slider, DJ assistant for Wo'Pop on KEXP
Seun Kuti and the Egypt 80 brought the house down at the Neptune Theater on Wednesday, October 3rd. Supporting his latest release, Struggle Sounds (out now on Sony Masterworks), his music burst from the stage painting a picture of the socio-political landscape in Nigeria. Each member of the fourteen-piece ensemble arrived on stage individually. Some of the members have been in the band since his father, afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti, lead the Egpyt 80, but other members are newer. Regardless of how long any given member had toured with the group, everyone brought an incredible energy and a strong sense of ensemble. Seun himself came out after the first song, and the party began.
The Neptune felt less like a Seattle venue in early October and more like a Miami beach venue in the late summer heat. Seun wore a blue and green jumpsuit and his back-up singer wore a small outfit to accentuate her constant dancing. The two were in perpetual motion as they sang songs about “Expensive Shit” and the “African Dream.” Considering the weight of their political message, they were sure having fun sticking it to the man. Between songs, Seun would launch into irreverent monologues mocking the press, Christianity, and materialism. He was the personification of charisma and had everyone dancing and laughing. He spoke frankly about his belief that the struggle of the class system is the greatest struggle that Africans face today. He told the crowd that, if you are black, you cannot consider yourself a self-made man since “whatever you are is a product of struggle and sacrifice.” He encouraged people to contribute to the community that paved the way for them, a belief he puts into action by honoring his father's legacy through his music.
Seun does not shy away from his personal beliefs, and his music is the perfect vehicle for delivery. His song “Give me my Vote Back (C.P.C.D.)” explores the corruption of politics and the lack of freedom in the press. As he sang about the “Corporate Public Control Department”, everybody in the audience couldn’t help but groove to the soul in the music. He channeled James Brown as he boogied across the stage to the brass section, yelling at the audience to “get down.” Seun is an incredible musician and has substantial showmanship. Seun Kuti and the Egypt 80 were not a show to miss!
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