Star-studded line-up confirmed for Africa Express
By Rob Ten
Wednesday 15 Aug 2012 12:20:00
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A star-studded line-up has been confirmed to join Blur and Gorillaz frontman Damon Albarn and African legend Baaba Maal on board the Africa Express at Middlesbrough Town Hall on Monday 3 September, and local community groups and organizations could be in with a chance of hosting a quickfire ‘pop-up’ gig of their own while the train is in town.

Organisers are calling on people to get in touch if they’d like to host their own gig – an invitation that could see a mix of top indie stars and African legends busking and jamming in some of Middlesbrough’s shops, cafes, schools, factories, offices, galleries, or even out on the streets themselves.

A dazzling clutch of names joining Damon Albarn now includes Carl Barat from The Libertines, Jon McClure from Reverend & The Makers, storming Brighton hip-hop duo Rizzle Kicks, East London rapper Kano, chart-topping Australians the Temper Trap and Nick Zinner from New York’s Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

And the African contingent boasts a mouthwatering array of international stars including Senegalese legend Baaba Maal - who has sung for Nelson Mandela and worked with U2 frontman Bono – alongside the likes of Malian duo Amadou & Mariam (who’ve worked with Coldplay, Stevie Wonder, and Pink Floyd’s Dave Gilmour amongst others); Rokia Traore, (who wowed a TV audience of millions on Later with Jools Holland); inspirational Congolese singer Baloji; previous Damon Albarn collaborators Jupiter & Okwess International; and Malian songstress Fatoumata Diawara, who was discovered by UK audiences at a clutch of storming festival gigs last year.

Graham Ramsay of promoters Ten Feet Tall said: ““The news about Damon Albarn and Baaba Maal has been out for a little while now, but the final line-up has only just come together and we’re all completely blown away by it.

“We always knew that the calibre of the African acts would be really high, but that’s a really interesting set of western artists to have alongside them. And it’s great to see such mix of established and emerging acts too, ranging from Damon, Kano and Carl Barat through to newer acts like Charli XCX, and also Kyla La Grange, who played at Intro for us last year”

“It’s incredible to see all these people together on one bill, and I don’t think Boro’s ever seen anything remotely like it! 

“In 25 years of booking bands I’ve never been involved in anything like this, and personally I just can’t wait for the show to come around – it should be an absolute cracker” 

“And the pop-up gigs are another huge bonus. If anyone’s interested in hosting a properly inspirational busking session or small quickfire gig in their shop, office, anywhere really, then we’re asking them to drop us an email soon as you can, even if it’s only half an idea for now.

“The organisers are looking to have everything tied up next week. The whole thing’s a bit of a whirlwind really - really exciting to be around!”

Five years on from their legendary 2007 Glastonbury gig, the groundbreaking collective of African and Western musicians is filling a train with more than 80 musicians for a week-long trip around the UK in September.

Rehearsing and creating new music on the train as they go, each show promises to be a complete one-off – something never to be seen again.

After scheduled gigs in Middlesbrough, Glasgow, Manchester, Cardiff and Bristol, the trip will culminate with the train's arrival into London King's Cross before a final concert in the new Granary Square at the back of the station on 8 September.

Africa Express began in 2006 with a trip to Mali, when co-founder Damon Albarn took Fatboy Slim, Martha Wainwright and others to play with acts such as Toumani Diabate, Salif Keita and Amadou & Mariam.

This was followed by the Glastonbury show and trips to Nigeria, Congo and Ethiopia, as well as further gigs in Liverpool, London, Paris and a beach gig in front of 50,000 people in northern Spain.

The Africa Express trip is part of the London 2012 festival and is produced in association with the Barbican.

Africa Express: featuring (from the West) Damon Albarn, Carl Barat, Jon McClure, Rizzle Kicks, Nick Zinner, and (from Africa) Baaba Maal, Rokia Traore, Amadou & Mariam, Jupiter & Okwess International & many more.

Middlesbrough Town Hall. Monday 3 September. Doors: 7pm. Show: 7.30pm. Tickets: £15.00. Onsale now at the Town Hall Box Office on 01642 729 729, or online at www.middlesbroughtownhallonline.co.uk and www.seetickets.com



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