It had been a while since I had been to the theatre, and so Felicity and I caught Afroreggae's Favelization concert at the Barbican on Thursday evening. Afroreggae have played at the Barbican a few times over the past few years, but this is the first time I caught them. Afroreggae began in Brazil in the shantytowns (favelas) and the music is a fusion of reggae, hip hop, soul, pop and latin rhythms. In addition to this the music also is a call to action about many of the injustices in the world, particularly among the world's poor and disenfranchised.
Of course being in Portugeuse this was lost on me. I checked with Felicity and she was a little rusty on it too. I guess most of the audience may have been in the same boat. While there were projections that accompanied the show the rapid fire words deserved to be comprehended. So after making a mental note to add language course to my new years resolutions, I could sit back and enjoy the concert. It was interesting that despite the music being a protest and a call for social change, there was also a message of hope and optimism about life.
The performances themselves were so full of life and engaging that it was easy to get into the groove of it all. The audience was soon on their feet dancing too, particularly when they did a set of classic soul and disco songs such as "Sexual Healing". Looking at those around us, Felicity made some comment about white men and their inability to dance (and she was right as some were absolute shockers) so I didn't dare get up. I just grooved with shoulders and hands and that seemed acceptable.
There is another element to the work of AfroReggae which is using their art for social change and to combat problems in deprived areas. The Barbican have been working with AfroReggae with schools in the East End and the concert culminated in a performance with young people from these schools. It was inspiring stuff... And definitely food for thought... An album of their music is available as well.