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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

War Is Declared, This Friday at Midnight




War is coming to town Friday night -- with a message of peace.


For the last 30 years, this American funk band has grooved generations while also trying to spread a little good will. They say that's just what Moscow needs.


"My goal is to go to war-torn countries and make people happy with my music," says War's songwriter, keyboardist and vocalist Lonnie Jordan. "We're really looking forward to playing in Moscow."


For many seasoned connoisseurs who remember funk's explosion in the late '60s and early '70s, War needs no introduction. For others, it's a matter of tying the band's name to some of its familiar hits: "Low Rider," "Cisco Kid," "The World is a Ghetto," - and for Quentin Tarantino soundtrack fans, "Jungle Fever."


War's music is a mix of jazz, Latino, soul, rock and funk. It was one of the first bands to work in this blend, and, for many critics, one of the most successful at it.


First formed in 1961 in Long Beach, California, War didn't get its big commercial break until the end of that decade, when ex-Animal Eric Burdon joined and they released their first million-seller, "Spill the Wine." By 1971, they were rid of the erratic British Invasion star and were stars in their own right. Their soulful use of horns with rock and funk rhythms crossed so many musical borders that their appeal spread to fans of all ages, races, and, for that matter, nationalities.


"Our music has always been a universal, street music," says Jordan.


American astronauts and Soviet cosmonauts listened to War's "Why Can't We Be Friends?" when they linked the Apollo and Soyuz spacecrafts in the mid-70s. It's a song indicative of the themes generally found in War's lyrics, which good-naturedly promote racial harmony and social justice - and the virtues of simply getting along.


It is with this unassuming message and the universal appeal of its music that the band is coming to Moscow.


Unlike other foreign bands that have been frightened away by incidents in Moscow in past months, War is not at all deterred by recent events. The Moscow bombings have convinced founding member Jordan that it is very important to play here now, and he says that some of their best concerts in the past have been in very troubled areas.


"I loved playing in San Salvador, for example, and never wanted to leave," Jordan says.


War plays at midnight at Mirazh, 21/1 Novy Arbat. Tel. 291-1423. Metro: Arbatskaya. Tickets: $35 to $50.