Thursday, April 4, 2013

complications and creations

One of my friends had an extra ticket for Fela! last night so after I got off work I met up with her and some of her friends, and our seats were pretty good, up really close. I wondered how many people would care about  The live band backing the songs was fantastic, the visuals stunning though the second half had some kind of weird digressions that made me wonder if there was concern about how to actually plot the thing, and given that we were among the handful of white folk there (which surprised me a little but then again college radio can be its own ivory tower), the general interplay between audience and actors was interactive in a way that worked well given the nature of the musical, which came across as less play and more concert.

I've loved his music since one of my college roommates got me listening to something other than cracker tuneage and I wish she could have been there with us. It's powerful stuff, these long jams that fill an entire album side at a time, and Tony Allen's in his eighties still being amazing. So it's a little disorienting when they're truncated into relatively bite-sized pieces, but that's to be expected, especially in a mass-market production that bears the prominent names of the likes of Jay-Z and Will Smith and features a former member of Destiny's Child. I wonder what the level of cognitive dissonance is here when the first couple are big fans.

And these songs criticizing the corruption, the heavy-handed military power, the way that multinationals are prone to plunder, a state that treats life cheaply, still resonate with a universality that makes it potent. These songs started riots and led to his being arrested 200 times, the death of his mother, and serious implications for his band.

And this is where I know too much, to completely suspend disbelief, and it's hard to sever the power of the music with the complications of the person who is its architect. He was charismatic, but I wonder how he would have run things. I wonder how many people applauding when he asks his backup dancers to marry him and calls them "queens" realize that he didn't treat them all that well. I'm surprised that there's no mention that he died of AIDS in 1997. But anyways, free ticket, good conversation, and a night out in a swank theater, which is always welcome.


  1. The last time someone offered me something free was sometime in the 80's. Glad you had a good time. :-)