Seun Kuti is one of the legendary Fela Kuti’s sons, and he’s now making his North American debut with a tour backed by Egypt 80, including some of his father’s musicians. Apparently, the band almost didn’t make it into the U.S. because of visa problems, but Senator Barack Obama’s office intervened and got them in. (Or so said the emcee last night… winning a round of applause for Obama.) Kuti played a free concert last night (June 28) at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, which is an excellent place to enjoy music.
The free world-music shows are great and hassle-free… I love how you can just walk in and sit down wherever you want. Last year’s concert by Seu Jorge and Amadou & Mariam was a memorable one, marred only slightly by the humorously hapless efforts of the security guards to prevent people from dancing or taking photographs. They seem to have realized the futility of even trying, because last night they pretty much let people do whatever they wanted, except block the aisles or take flash photos. Heck, one of the security guards standing near me more or less stopped doing anything other than smiling and dancing by the end of the show. This was just the sort of groovy Afrobeat you’d expect from a son of Fela. Seun Kuti has a tatoo across his back that reads: “FELA LIVES.” The son proved himself to be quite a showman, dancing across the stage as he sang and played sax. Near the end, he exhorted fans to get onstage and dance, and they did – by the hundreds. The opening DJ set by Rich Medina was also quite good, filled with lots of terrific African records.