LIVE REVIEW: Nubiyan Twist @ Hoochie Coochie (26.5.17) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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I’m sorry, but there’s a bit of French coming, for which I must pardon myself, but these guys are fucking L’COOL.  Usually a 10-piece, we had 10 last night at the church of good music (Hoochie Coochie, obviously), but that did not mean they were any quieter, any less energetic or any less funky.

Lead singer Nubiya Brandon has a sweet and soulful voice, which belies her strutting, flamboyant exterior.  Scowling and smiling at her tightest of tight bandmates, she cast an imposing figure with her Winehousesque hair do, and that is not where the comparison ends.

A story of London comes through, especially in the awesome Workhouse, but it’s not all London, it seems Leeds is a home from home for Nubiyan Twist. The international theme continues (ok, starts) with the fantastic Pilo Adami, who shook, hit, scraped and prodded a dazzling array of percussion instruments as well as providing support vocals. I love it when musicians down tools and pick up another, and that’s what Pilo did in the encore, I’m glad, because his guitar playing was incredible! So fast. An accomplished vocalist too, showing the strength in depth they have.

The sounds they made were absolutely on the sweet spot between funk, jazz, soul, acid jazz, Latin and afrobeat, but most importantly they nailed modernity, relevance and youthful exuberance. The gathered crowd consisted of a large group of younger groovy dancers, this is only remarkable because despite the fact Hoochie Coochie attracts world famous stars (Chaka Khan anyone?) I’m often surprised that the hip generation don’t fill that place out every week, it really is a Mecca for anybody who likes the phrase ‘I was there…’. Anyway, they brought a fan base, which is a clear sign of popularity.

The USP of Nubiyan Twist, apart from their musicianship of course, is their use of technology. I counted 3 MacBooks onstage, four boxes with a shitload of wires poking out, and more pads than the St Patrick’s Day parade in Dublin.  They aren’t superfluous though, they combined to make a sound bigger than the individual parts should really allow. At times the bass was so massive that I almost relinquished the need for a wisdom tooth removal. Boom boom. Hitting funky grooves at every corner, where they excel is in the afrobeat genre.

I recently saw Seun Kuti with Egypt 88, and let me tell you, they would give them a run for their money. The pinprick perfect horn section of Jonny Enser (trumpet), Nick Richards (alto sax), Denis Scully (tenor sax) and Joe Henwood (Bari) saw to that. While I’m on it, Oliver Cadman played some scintillating keys, Finn Booth brought the funk on drums, Luke Wynter walked the bass all the way home, and TomExcell Excelled on the guitar (surely that is getting old now?). They were so good that local funk dignitary Les Aitch proclaimed that gig as firmly in his top five at Hoochie, and that list includes multiple Grammy winners (and King Bee). High praise indeed. I’d be inclined to agree, they really were something else. Let’s hope they find their way back oop north sooner rather than later. 

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