It's a wonder that Femi Anikulapo-Kuti's current Positive Force Band was as tight-sounding as it was at this week's Thursday at the Square concert, because about half his band deserted him close to four months ago.
But Femi has turned things around fairly quickly with the aid of his bandleader, Oluwaseyi Clegg, his longtime baritone saxophonist.
The resulting outfit played a host of tunes from Femi's most recent album ("Shoki, Shoki") along with a cut ("Do Your Best") from an album to be released later this year and a classic song ("Custom Checkpoint") from the oeuvre of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, the founder of the Afro-beat genre in which his son is carrying on.
In addition to three percussionists, a bassist, guitarist and keyboard player, the band featured a powerful brass section with two saxophonists (baritone and tenor), a trumpeter and a trombone; three female dancers performed as part of the backup chorus.
Femi set the tone for the program by acting like a relative dervish on stage, whirling and cueing the band while playing saxophone or keyboards and singing of sex and political corruption, a heady brew that had the huge crowd dancing and pumping the air with their fists.
The other act on the bill was Dave Wakeling, now touring as "the English Beat's Dave Wakeling." Throughout its part of the program, his new band kept dipping into the canon of his former band, much to the pleasure of an audience that was on its feet from the beginning of the set and screaming for favorites.
Songs like "Hands Off, She's Mine," "Ranking Full Stop" and "Mirror in the Bathroom" set the stage for the most-requested tune of the evening, "Twist and Crawl."
Wakeling's new bandmates were a virtual copy of the Beat, with saxophone, keyboards, bass, drummer, two guitars and a toaster.
Mixley Moxley was the moniker for this last individual, and he provided a lot of visual kinetics, bouncing around the stage and playing to the crowd. He also succeeded in diverting attention (most of the time) from the feedback dilemma plaguing Wakeling.