‘Full of energy, positivity and lots of smiles’: Review: Ibibio Sound Machine

Ibibio Sound Machine. Picture: Dan Wilton

Ibibio Sound Machine. Picture: Dan Wilton - Credit: Dan Wilton

If you ever want proof of just how infectious music can be, stick 200 people in a room on an otherwise dull Monday night and get Ibibio Sound Machine to play to them.

Within a few moments even the hardest to please amongst them will be dancing and swaying along to their upbeat funky sounds.

For that's exactly what happened at Norwich Arts Centre on Monday night as the eight-piece put on a thrilling 80-minute set.

The London-based band are half way through a UK tour on the back of their third album Doko Mien.

Having seen them play to around 5,000 people at Latitude Festival, I was desperate to see them up close and personal in the grand surroundings of the newly-revamped venue.

And, as expected, the arts centre proved to be the perfect stage, its intimate surroundings giving lead singer Eno Williams a great opportunity to connect with the crowd.

If you haven't experienced Ibibio live or on record, then please do search then out.

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Their African-influenced blend of upbeat disco and funk is a joy to listen to and guaranteed to put a smile on your face and beat in your step.

And in Williams they have one of the most engaging lead singers around, so full of energy, positivity and lots and lots of smiles. I love it when a band looks like they're enjoying themselves.

Meanwhile the rest of the band, once they've got their heads around the logistics of getting eight-people on the stage, look like they're having just as much fun as the crowd.

With a three-part brass section, amazing percussionist and drummer, bass and guitar player, they are really able to stretch their songs live and many get a two or three minute extension from how they sound on record.

And it works superbly, allowing people to get completely and utterly lost in their music, in particular a crowd of people at the front who don't stop moving for the full set.

Highlights include their best known single Give Me a Reason, an epic Tell Me and a very funky Wanna Come Down.

For the entire set there's no let up and they do not play a poor song in what proves to be a show I feel incredibly lucky to have witnessed.