William Onyeabor is a Nigerian synth pioneer that was, “responsible for some of the most searing Afro-funk and space-age jams you’re ever likely to hear.” The majority of his music was released in the early eighties and shortly thereafter he turned born-again Christian and refused to speak about himself or his music.
Almost thirty years later, a group of musicians from the US are keeping the groove alive with a Sydney showing of Atomic Bomb at the Enmore Theatre. The core group is composed of Sinkane, Money Mark, Luke Jenner, Pat Mahoney, and Pharoah Sanders whose shirt glowed under the stage lights like a purple velvet oil slick. Sanders, a Grammy winning jazz saxophonist, is pushing seventy-five but not afraid to drop low when caught in the grips of a good beat.
Then there were the special guests, the Mahotella Queens. The South African vocal group entered the stage wearing bright red shirts, white skirts and a large red hat with their country’s flag. Two of the singers were members of the original lineup from the 1960s while Amanda Nkosi was the newest member. She was the only one young enough to do a high kick, but that just meant she’s spent less time on this planet perfecting her swagger- and the Mahotella Queens had some serious swagger and some serious voices.
As this was an Australian show, Gotye was on board as a guest singer and he killed it! His vocals were rich and there was something about his lanky, mellow demeanor that just fit the vibe of the music.
Since I came to know you baybyyyyyy,
I’ve been telling you how sweet you are.
I’ve been telling you how good you are.
Now I want you try to tell me how I look.
Tell me, tell me, tell me, tell me, tell me, tell me.
Please tell me how I look.
You loooooooooook so good.
Towards the end of the show Sinkane, wearing a slim-cut two piece suit and wide brim hat, came out from behind his keyboards and got the entire audience to get low. It was not an easy position to maintain and just before my thighs burst, we all rose back up together and jumped up and down to the music and to relief. Hanging above the stage was a projection screen with a recording of a woman dancing on roller skates.
William Onyeabor might not appreciate his music anymore, but it was pretty obvious to the crowd that the only downside to Atomic Bomb was the length of the show. We wanted a million more encores.
About: William Onyeabor
About: Atomic Bomb
How to get to the Enmore Theatre: 130 Enmore Road, Enmore