LIVE: Onipa – The Crescent, York, 29/01/2022 1

LIVE: Onipa – The Crescent, York, 29/01/2022

On Thursday, and in one fell swoop, the Plan B restrictions that had been introduced in England over the Christmas period due to the rise of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus were lifted. Amongst the raft of measures that were then jettisoned was the requirement to produce vaccine documentation to enter places such as nightclubs, football grounds, and large-scale events.

On the face of it, this was good news for the live music industry but as this gig firmly evidences the pandemic has clearly not disappeared overnight. The evening’s support act had to pull out at short notice for Covid-related concerns, joining a raft of other cancellations as it did so. Local promoter Please Please You tells me that in the last few days alone six of the nine shows he had lined up for next week had bitten the dust for a variety of reasons including those of coronavirus infections to artists and/or their crew and the administrative difficulties faced by international acts visiting this country and which had been caused by Brexit. All of which makes Onipa’s appearance in The Crescent tonight feel much more significant.

With all the pandemic-induced troubles of the past two years and the ongoing obstacles being placed in live music’s way, Kweku Sackey, aka K.O.G (Kweku of Ghana) is genuinely delighted to be here tonight to be performing in front of an audience. The joy on the flamboyant and supremely charismatic Ghanaian singer, rapper, percussionist, and arranger’s face is clear for all to see as he and his fellow band members, Tom Excell (the composer and multi-instrumentalist extraordinaire and man behind the acclaimed Afro-jazz project Nubiyan Twist) – with whom he founded Onipa four years ago – bass-synth maestro Dwayne Kilvington (of Steamdown/Wonky Logic fame) and drummer Finn Booth (Nubiyan Twist) take to the stage shortly after 9.00pm.

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For the next two hours, the four men take us on a mesmeric journey from these shores to the African continent with its Ghanaian Highlife, the Soukous of Congo-Kinshasa and Congo-Brazzaville, Malian blues, the townships and dancehalls of Soweto, the Afro-disco of Nigeria, and much more besides as they fuse techno, Afrobeat, jazz, hip-hop, and electronics into a riot of irresistible sound.

Now halfway through the Tapes of Utopia UK tour, Onipa perform the music from the album that gives the tour its name. Released last September, their second album celebrates the mixtapes that are sold in many African markets and the collaborative spirit that lies at the heart of their production. In concert, the songs capture the culture, purpose, and values of Africa as they are liberated into the diaspora. There is an exhilarating freedom to the music as it is transported to us on a glorious wave of blistering polyrhythms, melody, groove, and uninhibited hip-swaying swing.

Before setting sail on ‘Mokole’, Kweku Sackey tells us that “nobody knows tomorrow.” We pay full heed to his words, embracing these remarkable moments in time in what is an otherwise still uncertain future.

Photos: Simon Godley

More photos from this show can be found HERE

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.