Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 brought their blistering and buoyant performance to the Dakota in downtown Minneapolis on Wednesday that had the initially reserved crowd clapping and hooting.
The number of Black immigrants living in Minnesota has increased 274% over the last two decades, now over 100,000, according to a Pew Research Center report. To that I say, Hallelujah because among so many positives, it also means we have more drawing power to entice bands from Africa to visit our state.
The Nigerian band played to a full house on Wednesday evening, September 21st. It was the perfect way to end astronomical summer by turning up the heat as we head into fall and winter.
The Dakota pulled it off. They managed to assemble Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 all onto its small stage, all four horns, two guitars, a keyboard, a drum set, two back-up singers, and Seun himself. The Dakota somehow convinced Seun and his band to keep a lid on their volume, only twice hiking the sound up to “harmful levels” of 80 decibels. In other venues and spaces, this band routinely hits 80+ db and earplugs are required.
But Wednesday evening, we wanted to hear it all. From their old music written by Afrofunk King, Fela Kuti, when he led the band prior to 1998 to their new music including newly released tracks, Love and Revolution and Emi Aluta, released by The Orchard on June 24th of this year.
Seun introduced his new number, Love and Revolution, by telling us, “I wrote this song because my wife says, you don’t write love songs. So to me, love has to be a revolutionary idea. We have to embrace the mother-side.”
As Seun sang the lyrics, “You don’t want to mess with her, I’d advise ya…” the audience member sitting next to me had been recording the band, I couldn’t look at the stage from my vantage point without seeing his phone. The only thing he’d recorded after several minutes were the dancers’ backsides, zoomed in on their shimmying, gyrating…backsides.
Aside from that curious and humorous side note, the song was stunning. Seun writhed and twisted on stage, playing multiple instruments and dancing and singing. Wearing a jumpsuit of red, black, and white plumes, he moved so much, he expended enough energy to run a marathon.
It wasn’t until the last song, Emi Aluta, that his shirt came off, by the time he’d finished the song, he was spent. He’d given us his all and exited the stage, leaving the rest of the band to wrap up the number.
After the show, I asked the drummer, Mario Orsinet, if he thought the audience was too reserved in showing their appreciation for the band’s performance. Orsinet graciously said that he could tell the patrons were really listening and attentive, “They were really into us.” He didn’t think wild audience participation with dancing and shouting was necessary.
He let us off the hook.
But next time this award-winning, effusive band plays in Minnesota, may we all get up and dance our feet off.