Sons of Kemet review – blown away by a fiery black history lesson

Koko, London
The Mercury prize-shortlisted London jazz quartet salute women of colour and attack the monarchy on the dazzling first date of their UK tour

Most jazz bands don’t have a hype man. It should be clear by now, though, that London four-piece Sons of Kemet are not a conventional jazz outfit, and that jazz is enjoying a crossover surge that thumbs its nose at genre and shows no sings of abating; the hype is real. Before the quartet take to the stage on the first night of their sold-out UK tour – a tour that really should have celebrated the first ever victory for a jazz album in the Mercury prize – the slam poet Joshua Idehen whips up an already expectant crowd.

Wearing a top plugging The Good Immigrant, the 2016 BAME author essay collection, Idehen urges us to turn to our brothers and sisters and warn them we are about to sweat all over them. He’s not wrong. The Mercury prize may have been awarded to a tremendously lacklustre indie rock band despite the odds having actually swung in Sons of Kemet’s favour, but the excitement surrounding the group’s third album, Your Queen Is a Reptile, is still vivid.

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