Atomic Bomb – Who is William Onyeabor? Live at the Colston Hall
Last night was only the second time that the world heard the music of William Onyeabor live. I can honestly say, I think the man himself may have absolutely hated it. There was always a slight hesitation to appreciate the music of a man who had abandoned it so emphatically. Onyeabor, who created a number of highly regarded funk albums in 1970’s Nigeria abandoned his musical career becoming a born again Christian. Attempts to return him to his funk routes failed emphatically culminating Oyeabor responding to an interview by sitting in complete silence.
The night in Colston Hall Bristol was only the second time ever that his music had been played live (after a performance at the Barbican in London) and it took up to 15 musicians on stage to bring Onyeabor’s music to life in spectacular fashion.
The Atomic Bomb Band Who is William Onyeabor were immense Money Mark, Alexis Taylor, Kele Okereke, Pat Mahony & Ghost Poet thats some band!
— Adam Robertson (@robeam) April 3, 2014
Alexis Taylor from Hot Chip, probably most well known for their single ‘Over and Over’ (like a monkey with a miniature symbol...) provided the vocals for a few songs, dressed in traditional African attire with a signature Onyeabor Stetson. Other guests included Kele from Bloc Party, Ghostpoet, Pat Mahoney of LCD Soundsystem and the host for the night Ahmed Gallab whose infectious energy matched that of even Bristol gigging stalwart Big Jeff.
We caught Atomic Bomb - Who Is William Onyeabor tour last night @Colston_Hall, it was EPIC! Big up @ghostpoet too! pic.twitter.com/1HYfEpKShd
— Nokia MixRadio (@NokiaMixRadio) April 3, 2014
On the money
If there was ever a guest to bring to life electro funk then Money Mark is top of the list. Flitting between synths and literally jumping into each note played. It was not long before he had started waving his instruments around, dancing over them and at one point holding a synth vertically up to his chest like he was wearing a novelty piano tie.
The Lijadu Sisters from Nigeria added their own brand of African style in both performing their own songs and their matching reflective red jumpsuits. Having not sang their music live for over 30 years, they had perhaps lost some vocal range to put it lightly, but added to the party atmosphere and pleased the crowd nonetheless.
Saw the William Onyeabor tribute, or whatever they are calling it, last night. Money Mark absolutely smashed it
— Roly Porter (@RolyPorter) April 3, 2014
There was always a chance that Blur front-man Damon Albarn would make an appearance having popped up in London the night before but it was not to be for Bristol. But regardless of this Colston Hall was in a carnival atmosphere by the end of the set for stand out song ‘When the Going Is Smooth & Good’.
I can only hope a recording gets back to the man himself, although finding him may be a challenge...