BBC FEBRUARY 25, 2010 - by Jo Youle


Brian calls on Underworld, Tony Allen, and Fela Kuti's son to lend a hand

Brian Eno is plotting a month long residency in Brighton after launching the forty-forth festival in the city.

Bringing a distinct flavour of experimentalism to the table and what he describes as the "greatest night of his life" when he curates an Afrobeat night, he says the role is far from what some people describe as 'work':

"It's not that demanding, it's like a gift. It's like somebody saying to you, would you like to have a long party, where you have all your favourite bands playing."

The festival kicks off with Eno's visual feast of 77 Million Paintings which has been unveiled world-wide over the last few years, to critical acclaim and during the two hundered and forty-two performances at the festival, nine other events bear his individual stamp.

"There are some things that I have dreamed of seeing that I have never been able to catch before like a whole evening of Afrobeat music. I've loved Afrobeat for forty years, and now I have the people who started it actually, playing it here," he said.

He does, of course, refer to Tony Allen the legendary Nigerian drummer, who started the whole movement in the late '60s.

Allen will perform with his band, Africa 70, and also be joined by Seun Kuti, the youngest son of Fela and the rest of his father's band, who Eno told 6 Music he inherited as a family heirloom.

"Here son, have a band," says Brian with a wry smile, before singing the praises of the pair, leaving us in no doubt what will be the festival highlight for him.

"I've seen Tony Allen play a few times and I've seen Seun Kuti with his band and they are the most amazing musical events you will ever experience. They are unlike anything else."

The date for that night is May 14, the night before Eno's birthday, which he says will be like a personal present to him.

Acapella is another one of his passions that comes to the fore on this year's line-up, with one whole night dedicated to it.

Eno has curated the bands playing and The Persuasions, Naturally 7 and Reggie Watts will all team up for what Eno describes as one night of magic.

"A cappella is a little bit like magic, you can see the guy only has two things in his hand, and suddenly there's a third one there," he explained. "How does that work? It's magic. There is nothing other than the human voice, yet the music that emerges is so astonishingly moving."

Underworld's Karl Hyde is a key collaborator for one of the events which Eno has lined up, called This Is Pure Scenius! Previously seen once at the Sydney Opera House, seven individuals, headed up by Eno will hook up on stage to experiment with spoken word and music for a six hour extravaganza, that he says may see them call in the tea making facilities on stage.

"It's difficult to tell you anything much about it in terms of predicting what will happen 'cos it could go in a lot of different directions, but it will be a very long concert, the audience will change but we won't. It's a new approach to improvisation I think."

Aside from the bottom numbing music marathon, Eno will provide a lecture on Reasons For Optimism, an illustrated talk, a night dedicated to celebrating the Apollo Moon landing and a night looking at books with Anna Calvi.

The former Roxy Music man says he plans to stay in the city for the duration of the month of May and is hoping to bag himself an Access All Areas Pass: "It better mean that. There is so much I want to see in this festival that I didn't have anything to do with!"

The festival kicks off on May 1, with tickets going on sale from March 1.