Rebel Soul – Review

We’ve all started to feel the cold as autumn sets in and the British population, with the exception of Geordies, becomes virtually housebound for the next six months. Fear not though, there is something new to get us all hot and sweaty on a Saturday night!

Rebel Soul kicked off at the weekend, setting an excellent precedent for what’s going to be happening downstairs at The Wardrobe, on a monthly basis for the foreseeable future. Setting out to bring us all quality live music from the genres of Hip-hop, Soul, Funk, Afrobeat, Jazz and Reggae (or just about any mash-up of the above) the night delivered beautifully on its mission statement. On the menu this week were Stopmotion Trio accompanied by Tess Hirst for starters, a hearty main of Nubiyan Twist followed by the mighty Ariya Astrobeat Arkestra as a delectable desert; all served with lashings of DJ Lubi and DJ Gilla.

With Matt Davies on drums effortlessly playing round the beat, Aron Kyne on keys picking out some elegant melodies and lush chords and Emlyn Vaughan providing a lovely rhythmic bassline, Stopmotion Trio performed some cleverly cool jazz, made all sparkly with the inclusion of some Hip-hop and Latin glitter. Later joined by Tess Hirst the set got even better, especially due to the brilliant Destiny’s Child ‘Say My Name’ cover.

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Getting everyone up and dancing vigorously were Nubiyan Twist, a ten-piece band including scratch DJ, horn and rhythm section, fronted by the charismatic singer/MC Nubiya. Incorporating sounds from Hip-hop (there were some keyboard lines in there as lovely as an Erykah Badu track), Dub, Reggae, Funk, Jazz, Afrobeat and tastes of Latin it may sound like too many spices stewing in the cooking pot, however Nubiyan Twist serve it all up with such skill and energy that you cant help but stand in awe. And for ‘stand’, read ‘dance your arse off’.

Finally it was the turn of Ariya Astrobeat Arkestra who relentlessly pushed the crowd into an even sweatier dancing frenzy. Performing the entirety of their new album ‘Towards Other Worlds’ straight through with hardly a moment’s pause, the set had an intensity their spiritual father Fela Kuti would surely have been proud of. An even more impressive feat given that it was the first time that all of the band members had played some of the songs together, in or out of the practice room. They also seem to have created an even funkier, wilder and more engaging album than their last collection of absolute corkers. The final track New Frontiers provided a blinding finish as it unremittingly built up for at least 10 minutes, with an absolutely blinding organ line thrown in about half way through, to a drum crashing, horn blaring finale. Coming back to the raucous audience, one person somehow found themselves upside down, made apparent by the pair of feet sticking out from the crowd at the front, for a two tune encore including fan-favourite Lost in Kinshasa, they signed off the night as a success.

Words by Carmel Keogh. Photo’s by Benjamin Paul

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