Gig review: King Ayisoba

Apozora Ayisoba's music is far outside Western rock tradition. Picture: Contributed
Apozora Ayisoba's music is far outside Western rock tradition. Picture: Contributed
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THE East End Social has started as it means to go on. Sponsored by the Glasgow Culture 2014 programme and curated by East End-based independent record label Chemikal Underground, the Social will bring a wide-ranging and exciting blend of musicians to Glasgow over the summer, and the headline presence of Ghanaian kologo player King Ayisoba helped reflect the area he was here to promote.

King Ayisoba - Platform, Glasgow


Bare-chested, wearing his hair in elaborate looped braids and dressed in rainbow-patterned trousers, Apozora Ayisoba’s live set is a unique experience. He plays alone with his kologo, a simple wooden cross between a guitar and a lute which creates loud, rhythmic tones, especially when its strings are hit with such force as the King uses. Similarly, his voice is a powerful call which fills the space, the joyous, mantra-like repetition of his songs creating the perfect conditions for dancing.

What was most thrilling was the chance to have our ears opened to an artist so outside the traditions of Western rock music, especially one whose hiplife sound has taken him to No.1 in Ghana with the hit I Want to See You My Father. By the end he had encouraged the audience to bray like goats in musical tribute to their animals, performed a kologo and guitar duet with his European sponsor Arnold de Boer (aka support act Zea and a member of The Ex), and brilliantly introduced Wicked Leaders with the innocent but well-received words “we don’t like bad leaders, we don’t like corruption either… this is a song to advise them to be good.”