Following on from an electric year which has seen him win Best African Act at the MOBOs for a second year running, Fuse ODG brought his T.I.N.A (that is This is the New Africa—not his sister) movement to Manchester for an energetic yet intimate performance at Club Academy.
Warming up the crowd were a number of acts associated loosely with the afrobeats genre (think electronic beats mixed with grime and a sprinkling of Ghana) that Fuse ODG spearheads. Assisted by an MC, they swiftly oiled the buzzing audience’s limbs with a mixture of quick tunes and obligatory crowd participation. Fuse ODG fans are fanatical, and the girl who dared go on stage and get a song name wrong—‘Million Dollar Girl’ instead of the correct ‘Million Pound Girl’ was heckled off with shouts like, “she doesn’t fucking know the words, why is she here?”
Fuse ODG almost let the crowd boil over with anticipation but eventually every other word the MC said was about girls being worth a million pounds and Fuse ODG ambled on to the stage to ‘Million Pound Girl’ which drove everyone into a hip-shaking, booty-wiggling competition. The carnival vibe continued through Fuse’s early songs, probably reaching it’s peak in ‘T.I.N.A’ when dancers swayed around with Ghanaian flags: Fuse’s new Africa just wants to enjoy itself.
The party atmosphere was tempered towards the middle of the set with the digital infused afrobeats giving way to laidback rhythms of much of his yet unreleased material from debut album T.I.N.A, notably ‘Bucket Full of Sunshine’. His fantastic backing band, The Composers, ensured that despite the milder tone the set acquired that it remained its interest with thrilling drum solos providing segues between songs.
‘Azonto’ and ‘Antenna’, whilst good, failed to spur the ecstasy in the waning crowd. Here Fuse’s presence was notably lacking and if he had controlled the show more, the atmosphere of the latter half of the gig may have felt less like a club half an hour before it closes.
The crowd went wild again when Fuse announced that ‘Dangerous Love’ would be his last song and this is when what afrobeats is all about came through. I’ve not been to many gigs where you can get the overwhelming feeling that you’re at one with everyone in the room whilst feeling like you can dance your feelings out however you like, sober, without getting shoved into or stood on. Maybe that’s the essence of T.I.N.A.