A blog about arts and societies around the world

Transglobal Underground @ Rich Mix: A universal journey

A mild evening as we reach the end of November always comes as a pleasant surprise. It is the perfect moment for Transglobal Underground to show their musical skills for the last time in 2009, before going into a well deserved hibernation until spring appears. They have chosen the arts centre Rich Mix in Shoreditch for the event. On the programme: heavy beats, frenzied dancing and a lot of sunshine.

Who would have predicted 17 years ago that Transglobal Underground (TGU) would still make people sway to their intoxicating rhythms near the dawn of 2010? Indeed, they have been doing their multicultural boogie since the early nineties, borrowing influences from various parts of the world. And like a quality wine, they have only ripened with age. They have also proved to make any stage their home and tonight is no exception.

After the venue progressively fills up, four members of the London-based act make their way on stage. They warm up the dance floor with a light instrumental introduction led by the musical talent of Sheema Mukherjee on sitar and percussions guru Gurjit Sihra on dhol. The highly charismatic lead singer TUUP then appears to launch TGU’s classic nineties tune Eyeway Souljah, a reminder of the fresh release of their best-of album Run Devils and Demons. Soon enough, showing off a magnificent pair of white shoes from her well-known collection, the relatively newer member, Krupa Pattni, follows to complete the six-piece line-up.

The performance tonight reflects their musical progression since their debuts. They play a selection of songs mainly taken from their recent albums, from the Hindi singing of Mera Jhumka to the firing Drums of Navarone. The music flows, the sound of the percussions shake up a delighted audience that is just demanding more and more. Krupa seizes the moment to dedicate the next song, Bollywood pop-like Emotional Yoyo, to her recently deceased sister.

TGU have collaborated with a great number of artists from various countries over the years. The result on the albums has generally been outstanding. However it may sometimes be problematic when it comes to reproducing the same ambience live, an issue that is well known to the Bristol act Massive Attack. TGU nonetheless manage to overcome the challenge with verve as they can multitask with ease, switching instruments regularly. Only on Awal, the vocal savoir-faire of the Belgian-born Egyptian singer Natacha Atlas is dearly missed.

All in all, TGU gave a very pleasant concert to a small and mostly regular crowd, in an intimate atmosphere. It is always refreshing to see such a band perform in an era where conformity and uniformity rule. We can only be thankful and look forward to the first shiny days of spring for their return to action.


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