Old School Feature – Afrika Bambaataa in Concert March 2001

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Ed Roberts got to meet Afrika Bambaataa when he touched down in the UK back 2001. Here is his review of the night.

Afrika Bambaataa appeared at The Medicine Bar in Birmingham and boy did he know how to turn the party out. The small venue was packed to the rafters with a diverse group of urbanites, slackers, b-boys and punks, and the atmosphere was very friendly and full of anticipation.

DJ support from the residents Del’Agua and Chris Read was on point and taut. They warmed the crowd up nicely and the transition from regional talent to global legend-dom was smooth. Afrika Bambaataa sneaked through the buzzing crowd almost unnoticed. It was at this stage I stopped dancing and went to get my digicam from the car and I instructed my boys to get a spot near the front of the stage. On arriving back I thought I’d push my way back-stage. The promoters and staff were only too happy to oblige and indulge me . Within minutes I was up on stage and I found myself handing my copies of “Bambaataa’s Theme” and “Renegades of Funk” to the man himself to sign. I gave little or no thought to the fact that I was coming across as a total star struck geek, this was Bambaataa god dammit . After he had signed them, I thanked him, told him “Bambaataa’s Theme” was my favorite, he thanked me, we shook hands and then I shifted to the side of the stage and took some pictures.

The set itself was full of crowd-pleasers and if the word solid is a superlative let me use it…. Picking up where the residents left off, he dropped pop classics such as Jackson 5’s “I want U Back” and prince’s “Kiss” with the hip-hop weirdness of DJ Kool’s “The music ain’t loud e-nuff” and “Let me clear my Throat”. James Brown got an airing as well as memorable classics.. to criticize his set and say that the selection wasn’t too imaginative would be arbitrary and churlish because Afrika Bambaataa defines DJ culture. He will never fall off because he set the rules in the first place (He strikes me as an artist that has no time for elitists.) Anyways, everybody in the house lapped it up and there is absolutely nothing wrong with trying to cater for everybody. you only had to look at the cosmopolitan party people to see that hip-hop culture has now hit saturation point. Hardcore B-Boys, Coolies, punks and curios alike had a damn good time. There was no time for moody suckers cold-fronting in the back here.

I for one, went home a happy man.

“Peace + Unity”? Good one, Bam.

Ed would like to thank staff at The Medicine Bar for a good night.

Author: Ed Roberts

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