The atmosphere at Terra Kulture, Lagos, was not only charged with the energetic performance delivered by Fela Anikulapo-Kuti’s grandson Made but overflowed with a certain kind of familial love only the Kutis can evince. They had communed for ‘An Evening with Made Kuti and the Movement’ concert.
The tall, slender figure, who emerged on stage, is a third-generation performing Kuti. And just like his father and grandfather, he made the stage his home.
Backing the crowd in an almost ritualistic manner, he moved rhythmically to the instrumentals before welcoming the audience with a calm voice that distinguished him from the other Kutis but yet possessed similar energy as he performed ‘Free Your Mind’, the first track on ‘Legacy+’ B-side. The album is a collaborative effort with his father, Femi Kuti.
In that moment of soaring saxophones, trumpets and boisterous dance moves from two female dancers, the crowd came alive as though witnessing Fela on the Afrika Shrine. Made really proved his worth on that stage after years of studying and practising music.
This series of events, as it happened, was already foretold to this reporter by Laila St Mathew-Daniel, Made’s maternal grandmother. “He is taking music all over the world,” she said, recalling how a six-year-old Made would sway while playing his ‘little trumpet’ under the supervision of his father. “He has prepared for this moment.”
As the evening progressed, it revealed the many sides to Made. He journeyed the crowd through his limited catalogue that includes ‘Different Streets’, ‘Young Lady’ and ‘Higher You’ll Find’. Throughout his rendition of these tracks, he held his own, demonstrating his interpretation of what afrobeat is to him. However, the signature mannerisms -primarily when he disrobed his upper body- of Fela remained evident. It is easy to call Made the chip off the old block, yet he nuanced his performance to reflect his personality.
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This sense of self further seeped into his performance of Fela’s songs, too. From ‘Zombie’ that had the crew replicating moves of the undead, to ‘Sorrow, Tears, and Blood’, and ‘Shuffering and Shmiling’ that had extra dancers chime in, Fela only appeared as a backdrop.
Although he paid homage to Fela, he also extended the same gratitude to his father with his performance of Femi’s 1995 smash single ‘Wonder Wonder’ earlier on in his two-hour performance, of which a sizable portion saw Femi bopping vigorously in his seat. But this feeling wasn’t unique to Femi. Soon, Yeni, Fela’s first daughter, joined him on the walkway as they danced joyfully and proudly to their heart’s content.
The night was also one filled with surprise performances. As Made continued to thrill the crowd with sonic works of Fela, Seun Kuti made his way to the stage. The pair performed ‘Trouble Sleep Yanga Wake Am’. Although their performance was loved and heavily applauded, it couldn’t match the show of emotion between father and son during the energetic performance of ‘Beng Beng Beng’.
In what ended as a night of musical excellence celebrating afrobeat, Made, indeed, made his mark by extending the legacy of Fela.