Transglobal Underground are the musicians’ musicians. Pioneers of the extremely influential World Beat music genre. They along with Loop Guru were formed out of the Post-Punk milieu and provide a bridge between 70s Punk and Dub and the later Asian Underground movement of which they are considered either part of or percussors to.
The support tonight came from Dub Colossus the project founded in 2008 by Nick Page aka Count Dubulah who was also a co-founder of Transglobal Underground and who sadly passed away in May this year. The date of the show, 6th November, also marked his birthday.
The Dub Colossus line up featured regular members PJ Higgins and Mykaell Riley with Ben Somers plus Ramjac on congas and mixer and both Tim Whelan and Hamid Mantu, the other co-founders of Transglobal Underground, paying tribute to their former bandmate.
Walking into the Jazz Café, I was struck by the amount of DJs, Radio Presenters, Journalists and Artists that I saw amongst the crowd. It’s a long running observation that whenever Transglobal play EVERYONE turns up. The pre-show mingling was sound tracked by Hamid’s playlist which featured some World Beat bangers including the Transglobal remix of Fun Da Mental’s Ja Sha Taan. I went to the merch stall, disappointed that I couldn’t pay by card. They had a 12inch of Lookee Here with the famous Dreadzone remix plus a T‑shirt that were both on my wants list.
A facebook post encouraged everyone to arrive early to watch the tribute set and the venue packed out quickly.
Dub Colossus paid tribute to their founder with Nick Page’s voice being sampled and played through some of the tracks. Mykaell Riley described Ramjac as the mad professor as he rhythmically slayed the congas whilst producing dub and synth effects from his mixer. The set was pulsating and energetic and it felt like a rave. I was taken by the amount of people in full on dance mode especially the raver who looked like an ancient wizard. As the ravers of the crowd were being bigged up by Mykaell Riley, my friend was chastised by him; “You took one whole song to get into it!” The music was great and the atmosphere was upbeat but it was also sad that Nick Page was not performing on the same stage. His absence very notable. There was an additional member of the band playing Bass and he was somewhat obscured…
After a brief pause Transglobal Underground took the stage. Tim Whelan managed to pull off a wardrobe change before returning to the keyboard and sampler with Hami returning to the drum kit. The set opened with Mouth Wedding from their third album Psychic Karaōke from 1996. Dhol beats came courtesy of Rav Neiyar who set a thunderous tempo for the night. His set up also included a Dafli and Darbuka. Maybe it was the spirit of Count Dubulah looking down, but this was the heaviest and most hyped Transglobal show I have seen, really putting the beat in world beat and again there were times where it felt like I was at a DNB rave.
Tuup was on vocal duties for Nile Delta Disco, from the 1998 album Rejoice. His refrain of “The Egyptian Pharos fell from the sky…and played the blues” took me to the continuüm of Afro Futurism, a genre which I never placed Transglobal under even though it makes so much sense, at least in terms of records they were influenced by. One also need only look at the cosmic artwork of Transglobal and Dub Colossus artwork for additional evidence of this.
Eyeway Souljah with its “Stand and deliver” refrain sounded like an Adam Ant homage, that coupled with its world music inspired beats and samples summed up the entire Transglobal modus operandi, an 80s post punk band who loved world music.
Goldfinger, the rapper and Tabla player took the vocal duties for the next track. Mind the Gap from Transglobal’s latest album Walls Have Ears. I wondered whether Natacha Atlas would actually take the stage? Transglobal’s line up is so vast and varied that full band shows do not always happen. The Sitarist, Sheema Mukherjee provided some backing vocals alongside Goldfinger the two worked brilliantly together and it was almost reminiscent of a Neo-Bollywood film.
It was here that Natacha Atlas made her entrance for Yalla Chant (Yalla being Arabic for let’s go!) from Natacha Atlas’ debut album Diaspora from 1995 (Produced by the founding members of Transglobal, I sometimes see this record as the actual 3rd Transglobal LP). The track was accompanied by a flautist who would intermittently join the band throughout the night.
I Voyager from Transglobal’s debut album Dream of 100 Nations of 1994 was next. The album was released by Nation Records which was founded in 1988 by Kath Canoville and Aki Nawaz (Fun Da Mental) and instrumental in the World Beat and Asian Underground scenes. The track was a delicate respite amongst the jump up tracks and Natacha’s vocals were very soothing
Tongue of Flame was a chilled out affair which clearly showed the bands dub influence and Holy Roman Empire featured the return of Tuup on vocals.
Arguably the biggest Transglobal Underground song Templehead was played next.
Goldfinger was on fire with his rap vocal delivery and I was transported to his early work with Fun Da Mental and Detrimental. The crowd were encouraged to wave their hands in the air and there was a general feeling of unity, very apt for a song that became famous by being in a Coca-Cola 1996 Olympics advert. The chorus of Na Na Na Na Na Na just came out of me.
Slow Finger and Sirius B, both from the debut album featured fiery delivery from Goldfinger. Slowfinger brought some funk to the proceedings and Sirius B turned up the energy even more! I wondered whether the amount of debut album tracks on this set list were specifically picked as the whole show was a Nick Page tribute.
Sheema’s sitar playing was brilliant as always and she took up the bass guitar for the last couple of songs. Lookee Here from the second Transglobal album International Times from 1994 was a stomper that brought the house down. The band said their goodbyes and left the stage. The crowd immediately began to chant for one more, before they returned.
Ruma Juma was next and was from Transglobal’s latest album Walls Have Ears of 2020. The album was significant as it featured the return of both Nick Page and Natacha Atlas to the band. This was a special song written by Nick Page and was played in tribute to him. Goldfinger looked into the sky and bigged up his Transglobal bandmate.
Dancehall Operator absolutely smashed it, ending the night on a frenzied high. A brilliant gig and a fitting tribute to The Count. Rest in Power and Happy Birthday Nick Page!