The third Africa Utopia festival at the Southbank has recently finished, and it went out with a bang. Last Sunday evening saw the Tony Allen Review show hit London, and it was a fantastic way to bring the festival to a close.
Introduced by Baaba Maal, one of Senegal's greatest musical exports, we saw a leopard-printed Tony come on stage, fedora on, drumsticks in hand, with his six piece band there to bring the melodies to his afrobeat rhythm section. They were soon joined by Damon Albarn, and the band performed 'Poison', from 2010's album 'Rocket Juice And The Moon'.
The show shortly took a change of pace when Malian father and son kora duo Toumani and Sidiki Diabate took to the stage, silencing the audience with their captivating string sounds. If you're new to kora, or indeed traditional Malian music, their Grammy nominated self-titled album released last year isn't a bad place to start.
After this short interlude the rest of the musicians returned, the atmosphere picked up from calm and gentle to everyone getting up and pretending they had a vague sense of the rhythm on display on stage, probably half brought on by the keyboard player constantly yelling 'everybody make. some. noise!', as if we were at Creamfields rather than the Royal Festival Hall on a Sunday evening.
As Damon Albarn himself sang in Blur's '" target="_blank">Music Is My Radar':
'Tony Allen gets what a boy can do / Really got me dancin' / He really got me dancin''.
If you haven't seen Tony Allen on stage before, he is one to check out, and has a few more European dates this Autumn, guaranteed to bring some heat to a cold dark evening.