However, after a rather low-key start with a trumpet-led instrumental, things started to warm up with the appearance on stage of the first of Allen's Lagos team who managed to get through customs, Fatai Rolling Dollar. The 76-year-old palm wine singer was full of energy on the slow, tough funk of "Ise Nla", comfortable and relaxed as he playfully mimed karate chops between vocal lines.
Next on was the second ace up Allen's sleeve: the young Yoruba singer Yinka Davies. She has the easy grace and mile-wide smile of Diana Ross and managed to get some call-and-responses from the reserved London crowd on the anthemic "Lasun".
But what of Allen himself? Well, expecting the firing-on-all-cylinders fierceness that drove Fela Kuti's band between 1964 and 1978 to be repeated would, of course, be ridiculous - legend has it that when Allen left Kuti it took five replacement drummers to kick up a comparable racket. But Allen runs a different kind of outfit these days. Solo projects have leant towards a dubbier, more spacious vibe. And now this latest project - particularly in its live manifestation - is essentially an Afrobeat jazz band: songs effortlessly unwind; soloists get their spots, and Allen simply collapses the groove when he decides he's had enough.
During the quieter moments his hands barely hold the sticks - sometimes merely tickling the snare or drawing a whisper from the ride cymbal. And then suddenly there'll be a thunder of toms and we're back into a chorus. The rest of the musicians relax into each groove, rather than being intent on chasing it, or driving it forward. This approach was reflected in this concert's head-nodding audience, who seemed blissfully happy.Reuse content