It’s indeed a treat to witness a band on the verge of greatness, and London-based Ibibio Sound Machine are just that. They’re the wildest and most refreshing pick of the programme at this year’s Aberdeen Jazz Festival, playing to a full house at The Lemon Tree tonight.
Drawing on the rich tradition of African electronic music from the 1970s and 1980s, Ibibio gives new life to this golden-era of African music, mashing electro, funk and disco with unmistakable West African groove.
With the most joyous and infectious presence on stage, front-woman Eno Williams emerges in an incredible, almost space-age dress, complete with gigantic shoulder pads and a stunning array of colourful Nigerian-inspired patterns. London-born but with Nigerian roots, Williams is backed by the rest of the Sound Machine outfit, comprised of a full band including percussionist, as well as a brass section who double as synth players.
Ibibio open with Guide You (Edu Kpeme), introducing the crowd to their distinctly unique brand of feel-good funk vibes. The crowd is bouncing from the get-go, absolutely mesmerised by the African disco fiesta presented by the group.
With new album Uyai not even a month old, songs from this album feature prominently, including The Pot is On Fire which the crowd dutifully join in on. Williams’ vocal power is impressive as she switches between English and the Ibibio language, native to south-eastern Nigeria.
While the party keeps going, Williams slows down the pace to introduce The Chant (Iquo Isang), which is a reference to the 276 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram in 2014, 196 of whom are still missing.
In Give Me a Reason, Brazillian Anselmo Netto is incredible to watch on percussion, bringing another style to this multi-faceted sound. Ghanian guitarist Alfred Kari Bannerman answers in response with an unmistakable distorted vintage African guitar lick.
The crowd are left wanting more even after the encore, proving that Ibibio have indeed cracked something special, and are on the verge of superstar status.