Vicky Anderson presents a blow-by-blow account of the highs and lows of the Damon Albarn-assembled African extravaganza.
7.45pm: Arrive more or less on time to make sure I don’t miss anything, but it hasn’t started yet.
8.30pm: NothingÃ¢ÂÂs happening. Oddly, an ancient documentary about Cream drummer Ginger Baker opening a recording studio in Lagos is playing on a big screen.
9pm: Finally a bit of action as the show opens with a little en masse drumming jam. The African acts look stunning in their traditional dress, getting into their tribal rhythms – the nobheads from Hard-Fi are tapping on their bottles of Stella with drumsticks. ThatÃ¢ÂÂs class, lads.
9.05pm: Things get underway courtesy of singer and guitarist duo Amadou and Mariam, who begin things with a simple blues number. Then theyÃ¢ÂÂre joined by Romeo and Michele from The Magic Numbers. Together they do Love’s A Game, not finding a drummer until halfway through and then eventually being accompanied by a horn section. ItÃ¢ÂÂs lovely hearing it all unfold, and leaves me excited for what is to come. The first appearance from a frighteningly convincing human beatbox is impressive too.
9.45pm: Nothing redeems Hard-Fi. Nothing. No guest rapper, no tabla groove on Suburban Nights, nothing. They hog the stage and the singer throws a Cockney strop, moaning: Ã¢ÂÂIÃ¢ÂÂm Ã¢ÂÂearinÃ¢ÂÂ fackin naffink!!Ã¢Â? at the tech. Considering the DIY nature of the entire night, I say that made them possible winners of the Ã¢ÂÂwe missed the pointÃ¢ÂÂ award? Maybe itÃ¢ÂÂs just me – the crowd loved them.
10.15pm: Senegalese musician Wasis Diop comes next, his understated acoustic guitar and folky jazz a blessed relief. HeÃ¢ÂÂs joined by Martina Topley-Bird, who, disappointingly, muffles along to one song and buggers off, never to be seen again. Alex Kapranos walks past, heÃ¢ÂÂs found some crisps. Which reminds me, IÃ¢ÂÂm starving.
10.25pm: I eat a hot dog. At the Olympia. A decision that may come back to haunt me, I am fully aware even at the time.
10.30pm: A clichÃÂ©d rapper gets things going before a female vocalist begins an enthusiastic version of GorillazÃ¢ÂÂ Dare. Damon Albarn joins in for the first time, plink-plonking away on a knackered old Joanna like a spaced-out Jools Holland. To his credit, he tends to let everyone else steal his celebrity thunder Ã¢ÂÂ heÃ¢ÂÂs just another bloke taking part.
10.50pm: Reverend & the Makers: Stupid name, stupid fecking band. Like Hard-Fi, theyÃ¢ÂÂre all front and ego on a night when that should have been left at the door. It wouldnÃ¢ÂÂt matter much, if they were actually any good. At this point I feel close to tears and just want the Magic Numbers back.
11.10pm: DamonÃ¢ÂÂs back, infusing traditional African rhythms with that most revered of ancient instruments, the melodica. By now, singer Baaba Maal has been jumping in and out of numbers for a while and is a constant high point. WeÃ¢ÂÂre told weÃ¢ÂÂre going to hear something from a musician who plays a saw like a violin, but thereÃ¢ÂÂs Ã¢ÂÂtechnical difficultiesÃ¢Â?, so our man just slinks off discreetly. Take notes, Hard-Fi.
11.45pm: I like the Turin Breaks as so far theyÃ¢ÂÂre the most down-to-earth Brit act of the night. They mightnÃ¢ÂÂt be the most exciting band on the bill but at least the vocalist is in tune (take notes, Reverend & the Makers). TheyÃ¢ÂÂre joined by a female singer from Mali and it all ticks along nicely enough.
11.55pm: Terri Walker takes to the stage and kicks us all up the arse with a version of Gnarles BarkleyÃ¢ÂÂs Crazy, which begins with just the singer and a human beatbox and ends up with the stage awash with characters to become a celebratory jam of rap, grime, rock and Albarn, who again tootles on to sing a few lines. Walker is an absolute star. This is easily one of the best performances of the night.
12.10am: I spy some of the Hollyoaks boys dancing like loons. A funky band takes to the stage. Ã¢ÂÂItÃ¢ÂÂs all about the music,Ã¢Â? the singer enthuses. Ã¢ÂÂIÃ¢ÂÂm not even going to tell you my name because itÃ¢ÂÂs all about the music!Ã¢Â? Well that doesnÃ¢ÂÂt help me, does it? Next!
12.35am: Franz Ferdinand start lugging their own amps onto the stage. Nobody notices.
12.40am: Franz Ferdinand seem to have to line up at the front of the stage and introduce themselves before anybody notices theyÃ¢ÂÂre there. But once they get going, itÃ¢ÂÂs awesome. Take Me Out remains as immortally infectious as ever, and when Baaba Maal and others come on to join them, theyÃ¢ÂÂve got the good sense to get out of the way and let someone else bring something to the party. Seeing ngoni player Bassekou Kouyate take the mick out of Nick McCarthyÃ¢ÂÂs involuntary grooveless stomp was one to add to the Ã¢ÂÂthings you donÃ¢ÂÂt see every dayÃ¢Â? pile. Again, the point of the night was really brought to life by all on stage.
1.15am: I call it a day after that, which I know makes me a wuss but I had to get up early the next day to have a new toilet installed. The old one Ã¢ÂÂwasnÃ¢ÂÂt connected to the drains properlyÃ¢Â?, which is always something you want to get sorted out straight away, IÃ¢ÂÂm sure youÃ¢ÂÂll grant me. At this point, Damon Albarn had yet to fall off the stage or otherwise come a drunken cropper as is his wont, and IÃ¢ÂÂm sure I missed some great stuff as the night was supposed to go on til 4am – so where you there? What happened next?