Africa Express

The Africa Express

Some nights are magical. Saturday was one of those nights.

The Africa Express completed its British journey in London, disgorging a unique and wonderful band of African and British musical stars at the back of Kings Cross station.

Then they began to play.

It was hard to know who was on stage at any one moment – there was such a swirling cooperative coming and going behind the microphones. And I was too engrossed in the transcendence of the moment to be squinting into the lights to identify individuals.


Far better to read the musical signatures. The happiest moment for me was recognising the sound of Baloji (from DR Congo/Wallonia). He’s appeared on this blog before, but I didn’t expect to hear him live. (Though having done so, I’ll be trying hard to do so again.)

If you like that – Baloji’s website is here and twitter feed here.

(And my excitement has now reached squeak level, having noticed that Baloji has retweeted me.)

You can see if you like the sound of him here…

Or something different – with Zombies in Kinskasa – here…

There are some odd aspects to having Africa Express, such a rich vibrant performance in London.

  1. Only a minority dances. What’s going on? Are their souls dead? Though, to be fair, they have come to listen in the first place. But I was torn between delivering multiple kicks up the backside and spraying them with Ecstasy. Instead I opted for carrying on enjoying myself.
  2. No significant gig can take place without the presence of you-know-who. He appears everywhere these days. It must be part of the terms and conditions for intenational events. He has his own distinctive musical signature which I caught on to before the people around me. The audience reaction was mixed. Presumably you’ve guessed who I’m talking about by now. At least he didn’t play Hey Jude.

There’s a good review of the gig here and pictures of the build up here –  and a taster of the atmosphere below (thanks Alastair Burns). Warning – the sound quality is poor. And there were no clips available without Sir P – though perhaps I should be less grudging towards him.

So – Damon Albarn – organiser of Africa Express, I salute you. And you Stephen Budd also.

(However next time you could do with some better beer – though the food and cider saved the day.)

The moral? If you have the opportunity to go to an event at which you’re not really sure who is going to appear – take it.

A whole continent might turn up.



Filed under Music

10 responses to “Africa Express

  1. Chen Mangat

    Dancing point – toooo right!

  2. Christine Kalume

    Yes, I like Baloji! + the video.. kind of Buena Vista Social Club, Cuba meets DRC. As for dancing.. well …no comment. .. Just what a waste of good music!

    • blackwatertown

      Hi Christine. Yes Baloji is a bit Buena Vista Kinshasa. He has a gig coming up in London before Christmas. I hope to be at it.

  3. Now if I had two feet to stand on… still I am exercising them in mid air as I sit back on the couch… maybe the next new trend!

  4. Hmmm, that guitar player sure looks familiar…
    Blessings ~ Maxi

    • blackwatertown

      And you know the way Americans are reputed to ask British people questions like: Do you know the Queen? Have you met the Beatles?
      When it comes to Paul McCartney, the answer for anyone from London is much more likely now to be: Well, actually, now you mention it…

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