I first heard of Ebo Taylor at the beginning of 2014 with their song ‘Love And Death’ (now one of my all-time favourite songs), which consequently opened my mind to the brilliant wealth of Highlife and Afrobeat sounds that are out there. Born 1936 in Ghana, he soon became a pioneer of his countries music, arranging and producing for some of Ghana’s great musicians. Ebo moved to London in 1962 to study and progress his music, as Fela Kuti was doing, before going back to his home country where he is regarded as a pivotal figure of their music scene. Now, after releasing two internationally distributed albums in 2010 and 2012, a true legend was set to take the stage.
The band came on catching the crowd off guard, playing ‘Kwame’ (an instrumental) then going smoothly into ‘Aborekyair Aba’ at which point an understated Ebo Taylor came on stage, bearing a voice that complements the music so well. After what was a stiff start, the band where now free flowing and playing as one. Not long into their set they got the crowd doing a “Ghanaian chant” which soon got any non-believers devoted, as the crowd were now in raptures.
The audience of all ages were frenetic. Sucked deeper and deeper into the infectious funk which produced smiles all around. After moving the gig from Coalition to the smaller Audio, it was decisively squished, which all added to the raising atmosphere which hit a point that I haven’t experienced in such a small venue before. A mesmerised but energetic crowd found it impossible to stand still to the mix of African jazz, soul, and funk infused with enigmatic chanting vocals, jazzy horns and driving percussion – not forgetting the odd Santana-esque guitar solo that blew everyone away.
The band of seven were completely in their groove, and it was phenomenal. All dressing in traditional Ghanaian style, Ebo’s funk driven vocals were backed by the Afrobeat Academy, a Berlin collective featuring artists from Poets Of Rhythm, Kabu Kabu, and fellow Ghanaian legends Marrjant. All combined, they put on a mighty show. It is hard to pick a favourite song of the night (perhaps ‘Ayesama’) as I was in awe of the entire show, as these musicians bring something that you could never experience on an LP.
After near on a two hour set that really felt like an unbelievable 30 minutes, the crowd was in uproar wanting this moment that the band had created, to never end. This was a concert that should have been on everyone’s bucket list because the now 78 year old Ebo probably won’t do another tour after this one.