Review - Orchestre Poly Rythmo de Cotonou, Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow, Tue 28 Jun
Beninese Afrobeat with brass, percussion, guitar, bass and drums
Nine good men and true fill the stage of Glasgow’s most beautiful (internally) venues in a Django like return to European conscience. Presumed missing or dead, or both, in their home country of Benin, West Africa, the Orchestre Poly-Rythmo were hunted down by a French journalist Elodie Maillot to some dive of a nightspot where they finally emerged and tore the place up at 1am in the morning. So the legend goes anyway.
Now all safely in their fifties (the orchestra is now a 10-piece featuring five original members from the original 60s line-up, two from the 70s line-up and three new members), it’s not difficult to see why someone would go to so much effort to find them. Their music is a cacophony of brass, percussion, guitar, bass and drums, all centred on lilting but muscular vocals. The rhythms are off beat, shaggy and unbelievably funky. It’s the JBs conducted by Fela Kuti in one of his less long-winded moments. Songs disintegrate as they come to an end, or they just run out of steam. There’s no need for polish because every musical workout here is a class act. If you don’t at least sway from side to side you are indeed dead.