Africa Express, the groundbreaking collective of African and Western musicians co-founded by Damon Albarn, is making tracks for Teesside.
And the Blur and Gorillaz frontman himself will be joined by African superstar Baaba Maal and dozens of guest artists for what promises to be an unforgettable night at Middlesbrough Town Hall on Monday 3 September.
Damon & Co will arrive at Middlesbrough Railway Station on a train named, appropriately enough, The Africa Express.
And when the specially chartered freight train rolls into the station it will be a pretty noisy affair - as the train will be full of dozens of musicians from around the world who’ll all be creating new music specifically for this tour.
Africa Express the collective will become The Africa Express, as the train trundles around England, Scotland and Wales.
There’ll be musical legends and emerging artists, vocalists, DJs and producers from Africa and the West – all rehearsing and creating new music on board the train itself.
Lauren de Wolfe from Africa Express said: “It’s going to be so much fun – rehearsing on the train and getting the music straight out there within hours.
“Why Middlesbrough? Why not? Africa Express has been all over the world – from the Congo to Ethiopia, a Spanish beach to the centre of Paris.
“African music is unstoppable. It’s everywhere and people are very generous about sharing it with you. And it’ll be great to play our part in that whole experience when we’re out on our travels.
“Middlesbrough is the first night, I’ve heard it’s a great room to play, and we can’t wait to get started really. Bring on September!”
A full list of artists appearing in Middlesbrough will be announced closer to the time, but previous Africa Express shows have seen Baaba Maal singing with Franz Ferdinand, Rokia Traore performing a Gorillaz hit with Damon Albarn, and Mick Jones and John Paul Jones among the stars backing Rachid Taha on Rock the Casbah.
Graham Ramsay of promoters Ten Feet Tall said: “It’s an amazing gig this. The idea of a train pulling into Middlesbrough with dozens of musicians on board is crazy enough. But when you know Damon Albarn is squashed in there somewhere as well – well, it’s got to be one of the most exciting things we’ve ever been involved with.
“They are only doing six gigs – Glasgow, Manchester, Cardiff, Bristol, London and Middlesbrough - so it’s a massive coup for the town to land something like this.”
Africa Express. Featuring Damon Albarn, Baaba Maal & others tbc. 18+ Middlesbrough Town Hall. Monday 3 September. Doors: 7pm. Show: 7.30pm. Tickets: £15.00. Onsale now at the Town Hall Box Office on 01642 729 729, or online at www.middlesbroughtownhallonline.co.uk and www.seetickets.com