Africa Express, the Damon Albarn curated rolling circus of African and Western musicians and performers, has been asked to take part in the London 2012 Festival during the Paralympic Games with a Barbican organised tour that will go around Great Britain – not in a tour bus – but on a special  train – The Africa Express!  The Africa Express musical adventure will travel through GB, bringing together eighty African and Western musicians for an inspirational week for artists and audiences alike and featuring – amongst many others, Damon Albarn,  Amadou & Mariam,  Rokia Traore, Kano, Baloji, Charli XCX, Fatoumata Diarawa, Noisettes,  Jupiter & Okwess International and Jack Steadman (Bombay Bicycle Club) .  Expect unexpected gigs in unexpected places! Look out for  visits to schools, factories, homes and local clubs. Each day, each town, each show will be different. After a week of magic and mayhem, the tour arrives at Granary Square in King’s Cross, London. A united army of musicians armed with new music will be ready for a final show – a collaborative musical epic that defies musical and geographical boundaries!

All aboard The Africa Express…… with confirmed shows at

3rd September  Middlesborough Town Hall   Tickets: £15 plus booking fee.  / 01642 729 729

4th September   The Arches, Edinburgh   Tickets: £15 plus booking fee. / 0141 5651000

5th September  HMV Ritz, Manchester    Tickets: £15 plus booking fee. / / 0845 2 500 500

6th September  Solus, Cardiff University  Tickets: £15 plus booking fee. / 02920 230130

7th September The Big Top @ Creative Common, Bristol  Tickets: £17.50 plus booking fee / 0117 922 3686

8th  September  Granary Square, King’s Cross, London    Tickets: £20 plus booking fee.  / 0207 6388891

On top of this there are a number of pop up shows and workshops planned – to keep your eyes peeled if you live in Leeds, Bradford, Carlisle, Salford, Glasgow, Cardiff and Bristol!

The UK music industry is not a carbon intensive industry. However, it has a high public profile and artistes and events are important in influencing and promoting positive change. Africa Express is committed to joining the fight against climate change by promoting sustainable and environmentally friendly touring practices  as well as sustainable lifestyles and low carbon living.  The 2012 Olympic games are meant to be the ‘greenest’ ever.  LOCOG have ’embedded sustainability’ into their plans and is all very aspirational about this – particularly with travel, food and waste.

When London bid to host the 2012 Games, the organisers made a radical proposal to the International Organising Committee.  They weren’t only going to put on the biggest sporting event in the world; they were going to hold the world’s first truly sustainable Olympic and Paralympic Games, leaving a legacy far beyond the departure of the Olympic Flame. Its been mixed news so far and there have been some real disapointments and missed opportunities, but nets be positive and LOCOG say this

“From planning and construction and staging the Games to realising their legacy, our principal ambitions are to set new benchmarks in sustainability, inspire behaviour change, and maximise the social, environmental and  economic impact of the Games to Londoners and the UK. This Sustainability Plan reports on the progress that London 2012 – the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) together with the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) – as well as our stakeholders have made to date”

 A Greener Festival co-founder Ben Challis acts as the legal advisor for Africa Express, and he volunteered to put together an sustainability and environmental policy for the tour focussing on the three 2012 priorities  – travel, food and waste – as well as reducing energy use – using resources freely available at  and  – and involving other organisations noted below.

On the first point, travel, the Africa Express musicians, all 80 of them, and crew, are travelling by train and playing easily accessible town centre venues which can be walked to and will have public transport links Africa Express and venues such as  Granary Square in London can promote – a big plus: Granary Square is in the newly redeveloped area of Kings Cross served by overland trains, the underground network and many bus connections. we will be asking all of the venues and promoters to prioritise public transport, walking and cycling.

For food, the 2012 ‘food vision’ is online, and Ben recommended that Africa Express looked at the work our friends at Sustain were doing – you can findout more here, and adopt Sustain’s seven principles – 1. Eat the seasons! 2. Support environmentally friendly farming 3. Serve less meat – and buy the best  4. Seek out sustainable fish 5. Choose Fair Trade 6. Don’t bottle it 7. Serve up well-being

On waste, Africa Express will look to minimise waste and priortise recycling at venues – and support  the 2012 inspired  ‘Zero Waste Events’ initiative which Africa Expess decided it could adopt (

And for greenhouse gas emissions Africa Express will be asking all of the event to minimise greenhouse gas emissions using either the Julies Bicycle benchmark standards on Venues or the Julies Bicycle benchmark standards on Outdoor Events  ( .

Africa Express adopted the follwowing guidelines for te 2012 tour:

  • AE will consider sustainability, the environment and the environmental impact of the tour and the Events at the planning stage including the routing; the venue selection; the travel logistics; the goods and service procurement; show power demand and set design.
  • AE will ensure that environmental considerations are embedded into all tour planning decision-making
  • AE will  use the Africa Express green rider to ask venues for information about their environmental performance  and ensure venues adopt environmentally friendly practices
  • AE will use our best endeavours to ensure all Events and the Tour is measured for GHG emissions at the planning stage and upon completion stage of each leg.
  • AE will ensure that the tour will use a routing schedule that will minimise the GHG emissions from artiste and crew travel.
  • AE will make travel choices specifically to minimise the GHG emissions from moving production equipment and personnel on tour – the train!
  • AE will ensure we work with venues which are easily accessible to public transport and which can promote public transport, cycling and walking as well as recycling and sustainable food.
  • AE will to work with venues and suppliers that are also addressing environmental impacts. And ask  venues to  share with us any information it has on local green suppliers.

The London 2012 Cultural Olympiad is the largest cultural celebration in the history of the modern Olympic and Paralympic Movements. Spread over four years, it is designed to give everyone in the UK a chance to be part of London 2012 and inspire creativity across all forms of culture, especially among young people.  The culmination of the Cultural Olympiad is the London 2012 Festival, a spectacular 12-week nationwide celebration bringing together leading artists from across the world with the very best from the UK, from 21 June until the 9 September 2012.  The London 2012 Festival celebrates the huge range, quality and accessibility of the UK’s world-class culture including comedy, dance, music, theatre, the visual arts, fashion, film and digital innovation, giving the opportunity for people across the UK to celebrate the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Hailed as the most revolutionary force in popular music for two decades, Africa Express brings together musicians from different cultures, genres and generations to break boundaries and offer a new perspective on Africa and its music.

Africa Express began in 2006 with a trip to Mali, when co-founder Damon Albarn took the likes of Fatboy Slim, Martha Wainwright and Jamie T to work with African legends such as Toumani Diabate, Salif Keita, Amadou & Mariam and Bassekou Kouyate.  This was followed by a trial London event, then the now-legendary Glastonbury Festival  2007 show, followed by trips to Nigeria, the Congo, Ethiopia and shows at the BBC Electric Proms, for 25,000 people in Paris town centre and with 50,000 people on a Spanish beach show.

That was, without a doubt, the craziest show I have ever played in my life ~ Flea,  Red Hot Chilli Peppers, after playing with Africa Express at The Shrine, Lagos and

By |2016-11-01T15:05:08+00:00July 25th, 2012|AGF Blog|