Islington Assembly hall has a very impressive calendar of events and this show had already felt like it was going to be a fine entrance into spring. Earlier the sun was shining, the warmth lasted into the evening and this was to be the first of seven shows from Nubiyan Twist on their Dance Inna London tour.
When I first saw tonights line-up with a host of talented musicians and sounds heavily influenced by a variety of cultures, I knew it would be a night of great music. Ezra Collective, a band with a firm hand on the scene opened-up to a filling crowd ready for an evening of funk, jazz, afro-beat and reggae influence sounds. With awards such as ‘Best Band’ from the Yamaha Jazz Experience and fairly extensive experience touring, these guys bring it and bring it well.
Opening with Enter The Jungle from their 2016 album Chapter 7, the collective effortlessly brought the crowd into it’s heavy jazz essence, seeming to lead you to explore each musician’s parts both individually and collectively. As they did with Colonial Mentality, a dub driven experience worthy of a place alongside some of the greats.
From the get go Nubiyan Twist went large, (they are a twelve piece band), with a full-energy intro, with punchy, funky, jazzy riffs, then breaking it down into a vibrant lead-in for singer Nubiya Brandon to grace us with her timeless vocals. Grooving along soulfully you can see how they’ve managed to establish themselves as a fav to some of the year’s most sought festivals. They’ve shared the stage with great musicians, taken their sound on the road before and this was my first time seeing them live, but this felt like a moment, which was great to witness & be a part of.
Nubiya sang with a humble yet strong presence, lacing through songs like Figure Numatic with her spoken-word style rap reminiscent of the early days. Their vibe of a dub jazz fusion exceeds genres and is fitting with a newness for the nostalgists and those recently introduced. Wether they throw-in fresh afro-beat percussion or a reggae-lick, they’ve really mastered a raw, unified delivery to their live show. Melting together some of the most revered sounds from around the globe takes a lot of skill and these guys really bring it all together.
Their latest single Dance Inna London featuring dancehall don dada Super Cat, is a clever re-work of the Don’s 1982 classic Dance Inna New York. Tonight they were joined by K.O.G. of K.O.G. & The Zongo Brigade, who added an extra dash of his own flavour to the song. From the hall’s high ceilings to the original 1930 sprung dance floor and the quality sound system, Nubiyan Twist had the audience bouncing along calling for more. Paying homage to the great Fela Kuti and producer/rapper J Dilla, the band certainly showed their versatility and passion for their craft. Standing strong on a roster at label Wormfood, with an array of afro-fusion talent, Nubiyan Twist treated London to the beginning of a special journey.
Live Review & Photography by Nosa Malcolm. Nubiyan Twist at Islington Assembly Hall, London on 7th April 2017