LIVE REVIEW: Nubiyan Twist @ The Cluny (13.2.2015) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Any initial concerns regarding how the headliner on Valentine’s eve would squeeze 12 members onto one small Cluny stage was soon eased when support band, Newcastle’s own Backyard Rhythm Orchestra, took to the stage with 11 musicians.  Although there are disadvantages – it’s impossible to see all the members at any given time – there are advantages too, and not just that they could play each other at football! Namely, any instrument you can find, play it. What’s more, it worked too.

Rarely has a warm-up act gone down so well in this part of the Ouseburn, as a sweaty pre-Valentines crowd bounced off the walls in what fast becomes a sticky sweatbox.  Blending ska, reggae and afrobeat, with golden nugget lyrics like “Hey country boy wash my dirty city money,” and “Money’s no friend of mine cos it’s got no craic,” saw BRO go down a storm with a crowd here to party.  The politics is raised a gear on Golf Club Fascists, with timely pokes at the far right and UKIP but the crowd are having too much fun to care.

What can only be described as possibly the world’s first reggae opera follows before One More Try slows things down and almost loses the crowd before kicking in and winning them all over again, warming the crowd up perfectly for Nubiyan Twist.

Nubiyan Brandon took to the stage, long-limbed and elegant in a little black dress, surrounded by her all-male band.  Her beauty and presence draws attention but it’s a slow build as she grows into her role with an understated rap that builds to an incredible climax as the band groove their way into the song.  “This is something new,” offers Nubiyan as she carelessly rips up a set-list and the band launch into forthcoming debut album track Straight Lines.

It soon becomes very clear we’re in the presence of something great. The crowd builds as the songs do, Figure Numatic again building slowly until all members of the highly accomplished band are wowing us with their ability.  None more so than Nubiyan, as she shimmies and sways with elegance and poise, often squaring off with percussionist Pilo Adami.  Bands having this much fun on stage can only ever result in the same occurring on the dancefloor, as each member gets their turn in the spotlight, including a wonderful sax solo from Mick Richards.

“Soul, jazz, dub, hiphop and afrobeat,” promised the posters, but it really doesn’t matter what it is.  The results of the fusion are astounding, songs like Hurt So Good, Shake Me Down and new single Work House capturing the bodies, souls and hearts of a packed crowd.  On Valentines eve, there’s certainly been enough love to go round on-stage at the Cluny tonight.

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