REVIEW | TRANSGLOBAL UNDERGROUND AT JAZZ CAFÉ 6TH NOV 2021

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

DJ ISURU

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, the next party will be on March 24th Ven­ue TBC. www.djisuru.com

About DJ ISURU

DJ ISURU
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, the next party will be on March 24th Venue TBC. www.djisuru.com