Stopping soon in a city near you is the Africa Express tour – that is, a train filled with African and Western artists, travelling across the country to perform both planned and impromptu pop-up concerts celebrating African music, and led at the helm by Damon Albarn.
Africa Express as a concept was born in 2006, when co-founder Albarn visited Mali with a group of musicians including Martha Wainwright and Jamie T with the aim of creating collaborations between Western and African artists. Six years on, the Africa Express tour is spending this week roaming around Britain, bringing a diverse and constantly shifting line-up of artists (including Nicolas Jaar, Bashy, Charli XCX, Nneka and Gilles Peterson, to name a few) to London, Cardiff, Bristol, Manchester and more.
You can follow the Guardian live blog of the tour to get constant updates on what’s happening on board the noisiest train in Britain, but here we’ve chosen five clips that summarise the spontaneous, excitable buzz of the week so far, to demonstrate what it’s all about.
The five clips below chart the journey of the train, from the moment it left Euston station already mid-jam and humming with potential, to its instances of spontaneous, rhythmic outburst and its fusion of influences, instruments and attitudes.
Damon Albarn sets off aboard the Africa Express tour train
On board the Africa Express, day one (from The Guardian)
Damon Albarn and Africa Express playing as they arrive in Middlesborough (from Lee Johnson)
Sometimes the rhythms come from unlikely sources… (from Tim Jonze)
Africa Express in City Park, Bradford
The show will then stop in Cardiff and Bristol before coming to its grand finale in King’s Cross. Tickets range in price between £15 and £20, and are on sale now. You can view the full, confirmed line-ups for each date here.