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!

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DJ Isuru is a music journ­al­ist and broad­caster on SOAS Radio. He also runs the Mishti Dance event series fea­tur­ing the best in Asi­an Under­ground.


DJ Isuru is a music journalist and broadcaster on SOAS Radio. He also runs the Mishti Dance event series featuring the best in Asian Underground.