On Thursday 26 May, Nigerian actor Wale Ojo held an afrobeat concert 'Kalakuta Express Nights' at Hard Rock Cafe, Lagos.
The first of a series of monthly concerts and a prelude to a forthcoming film partly on afrobeat originator Fela, the event started with comedian Porcupine telling a few jokes. Holding a tomato, the comedian made a joke about how expensive the fruit had become in Nigeria. He made a few wisecracks about the Nigerian love for English football and then started on pop music jokes involving Kcee’s 'Reggae Blues' and Michael Jackson's ‘Smooth Criminal’.
Ojo climbed on to sounds of Femi Kuti's ‘Beng Beng Beng’. A vigorous dance introduced the session. Elsewhere with the café, a few young men greeted Jimmy Jatt, the famous Nigerian DJ. Onstage, singer and crew went through a series of songs, with the actor doing varied impressions of Fela. The band played ‘Shakara’, letting the intro spill on for several minutes, a move that recalled Fela’s lengthy songs.
Around patrons of the café held up phones taking videos and photos. A number of famous faces appeared as the night went on: Ade Bantu, music coach Ben Ogbeiwi, actor Bryan Okwara, radio personality Olisa Adibua.
Dropping his microphone for a while, Ojo danced, rendering more impressions of Fela. Applause and whistles went off as he finished dancing. “Ladies and gentlemen, we'll like to welcome you to the Kalakuta Express Show,” he said, and dedicated a song to the London Afrobeat Collective.”
As the concert neared its end, Ojo performed the "soundtrack for a new movie called Kalakuta Express," a mellow tune that got intense as it progressed. As a tribute to James Brown, one of Fela’s influences, Ojo played the funk tune, 'Fire on the Bayou," first performed by The Meters.
"It is going to be a movie,” said Ojo afterwards. “We are developing a concept and we’ll be playing here every last Thursday of the month. ‘Kalakuta Express’ is not a Fela biopic; it is a Felasophical movie, a movie based on Fela’s philosophy. It is both about Fela and not about him."
Asked when the movie will be released, he said: “The film will probably be out by the end of the year. First we are doing back to front promotion. There are five scenes featuring Hard Rock Café. We will shoot several times and select the best five."