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17th April 2023

Gig Review: The Afrobeats Orchestra at The Blues Kitchen

The Untold Orchestra return to The Blues Kitchen for The Afrobeats Orchestra.

Last Friday we went to The Afrobeats Orchestra at The Blues Kitchen, performed by the Untold Orchestra. If you’ve lived in Manchester for a while, you know that The Blues Kitchen and your favourite music played by an orchestra go hand-in-hand.

From my previous experiences at The Blues Kitchen, I have seen Blonde vs Orange: Frank Ocean Orchestra, Amy Winehouse‘s Birthday and The History of Drake: Performed by Untold Orchestra – all of which were performed by an incredible orchestra that completely redefines the way you see your favourite artists.

Having an idea of what to expect at The Afrobeats Orchestra, I was not disappointed. A 12-piece orchestra with string, brass, percussion, and vocalists performed a soulful selection of tracks that were inspired by the sweet sounds of Nigerian and Ghanaian afrobeats, a genre originating from elements of funk and jazz in the late 1960s.

The set started off with ‘Calm Down’ by Rema, one of the most popular afrobeats songs of the last year. A beautiful love song that got everyone on their feet and dancing early on. Following the vibe setter of ‘Calm Down’, Untold Orchestra played Tiwa Savage, a Nigerian afrobeats artist who is highly regarded as the Queen of Afrobeats. In and amongst her songs the saxophonist performed an incredible solo that was truly breathtaking and engaged the entirety of the crowd. Just another example of Untold Orchestra’s talents.

From Tiwa Savage to two of my favourites, Wizkid and Burna Boy‘s ‘Ginger’ from the critically acclaimed album Made in Lagos – my favourite album of all time. Both vocalists combined well to perform the parts of two of afrobeats front runners as the song left me feeling an overwhelming sense of happiness. The last song before the interlude was ‘Peru’ by Fireboy FML, a song that got so much attention when it was released that even Ed Sheeran jumped onto the remix of it.

The break was filled with DJ MIXRMOE, who mixed a well-chosen selection of music to fill the break, with much of the crowd still very much singing and dancing to the tunes in the meantime.

Untold Orchestra returned to the stage to rapturous applause and kicked off the second half of the show with another fan favourite Dave‘s ‘Location’ which features vocals from Burna Boy once again. The second part of the set was another hour filled with the beautiful sounds of the orchestra, performed perfectly alongside the brilliant vocalists. Artists such as NAO, D’banj and Beyoncé were performed, with my favourite track that followed being ‘Brown Skinned Girl’ by Blue Ivy, SAINt JHN, Beyoncé and Wizkid.

As The Afrobeats Orchestra came to a close, they performed one of Burna Boy’s most successful breakout songs – ‘Ye’. The crowd were so engaged with the song and sang back the easy to sing lyrics to the vocalists, with both the crowd and singers exchanging turns in singing. ‘Ye’ signalled what looked to be the end of another faultless Blues Kitchen show.

However, this was not the case. The encore, as correctly guessed by many in the crowd, was ‘Essence’ by Wizkid and Tems. Arguably one of the most mainstream and well-known afrobeats songs of the decade. At this moment everyone in the crowd was singing. Everyone. The song was a delightful end to a night full of singing, dancing and discovery.

The Afrobeats Orchestra represented that there’s no genre too tough for the Untold Orchestra to perform, as their list of genres that they can successfully play has just grown once again. Both The Blues Kitchen as a venue and the Untold Orchestra as an ensemble are highly recommended.

Catch the Untold Orchestra next performing the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill: An Orchestral Rendition on April 21st at The Blues Kitchen. This is not to be missed.

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