Legendary African funk band head to Norwich celebrating 50 years

Orchestre Poly-Rythmo visit Norwich Arts Centre on June 19. Photo: 9PR

Orchestre Poly-Rythmo visit Norwich Arts Centre on June 19. Photo: 9PR - Credit: Archant

Formed in the 1960s but recently recdiscovered by a new generation of fans, Orchestre Poly-Rythmo visit Norwich Arts Centre for one of their first shows in the UK since 2011, in celebration of 50 years together.

Orchestre Poly-Rythmo have been re-discovered thanks to releases on labels like Analog Africa. Photo

Orchestre Poly-Rythmo have been re-discovered thanks to releases on labels like Analog Africa. Photo: 9PR - Credit: Archant

One of the most prominent, prolific and successful African bands of all time are to perform at Norwich Arts Centre as part of a select number of UK shows.

Orchestre Poly-Rythmo are the longest-running African Orchestra and released hundreds of EPs and dozens of albums throughout the 1960s and 70s, playing a variety of musical styles for various Beninese record labels.

In recent years they have been rediscovered a whole new generation of fans thanks to re-releases of their music by cult labels Analog Africa and Soundway.

Their mixture of danceable rhythms with punchy brass choruses and spidery guitar riffs makes for a celebration of the all best things about West African music. Their gig at Norwich Arts Centre on June 19 comes as the band mark 50 years of making music and is amnongst their first UK shows since 2011.


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The band were first formed in 1966 under the name Orchestre Poly-Disco in the coastal town of Cotonou in Benin. Their debut album was originally released in 1973

Over the years they have blended traditional Beninese music, American soul and funk, Nigerian afrobeat, Congolese rumba, Ghanaian high-life, French pop and Afro-Cuban rhythms in their own unique style.

Orchestre Poly-Rythmo were formed in Benin in the 1960s. Photo: 9PR

Orchestre Poly-Rythmo were formed in Benin in the 1960s. Photo: 9PR - Credit: Archant

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Reuniting in 2008, they recorded the 2011 album, Cotonou Club, but were hit with tragedy with the death of their leader, Mélomé Clément before singer Vincent Ahehehinnou revived the band and their music has since found new audiences around the world.

• Orchestre Poly-Rythmo play Norwich Arts Centre on June 19, 8pm, £16 (£12.50 cons) adv/£18 door, 01603 660352, norwichartscentre.co.uk• More about Orchestre Poly-Rythmo

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