Transglobal Underground @ Rich Mix
Bethnal Green Rich Mix. 21nov09.
Possibly never has a band been better named, nor played in a more appropriate venue in terms of mirroring their themes, the Rich Mix being an East End cultural centre and cinema located between the heart of the Bangladeshi community in Spitalfields and the arts-hungry populations of Hoxton and Shoreditch. Like this part of the world, Transglobal Underground’s music showcases a variety of backgrounds and influences all at once.
Multi-cultural worthiness designed to annoy readers of the Daily Express this is not however as TGU are, first and foremost, a party band. This is kind of why this appearance beneath a permanent roof is a relative rarity, their live show usually taken out on the festival circuit, in open fields and beneath vast marquees.
Yet it works just as well in this environment, perhaps better for keeping their energy from drifting off over heads and into the clouds. Yet despite their fusion of western, eastern, African and Caribbean musics, there is certainly no lack of focus in their compositions, a tightness held together by founder members Hamilton Lee (aka Hamid Man Tu) and Tim Whelan (aka Alex Kasiek), responsible for drums and keyboards/guitar/programming respectively, taking a relatively low-key role at the back of the stage.
With the core of the group providing a firm hand on the tiller, Sheema Mukherjee (on swirling sitar and lively bass) and Dhol-drummer Johnny Kalsi are thus free to add their colourful shadings to the paintwork, in their more eye-catching stage roles.
Not that they eye is short of players to focus on, with Godfrey Duncan (aka The Unorthodox Unprecedented Preacher) issuing his captivating proclamations as lead vocalist and MC, pitching his contributions somewhere between a gospel-roaring evangelist and a dubplate sound system tour de force.
In a supporting role, Krupa Pattini’s vocal style, at the classic Bollywood heroine end of soul, displays an impressive range but never to steal the scene. It’s simply a great ensemble performance tonight, highlights of the set such as The Drums Of Navarone and Emotional Yo-Yo effortlessly whipping the crowd into a gleeful dancing collective.