Leeds founded, London based collective Nubiyan Twist took over Rescue Rooms stage (and the audiences’ bodies) last Wednesday. Izzy Felton is your guide through their eclectic set.
The usual suspects of a night in Rescue Rooms, dark fruits drinking indie fans and the occasional lost DNB enthusiast who can’t find their way back to Stealth- these were swapped for a mixed bag of excitable twenty-somethings and 6 Music dads. Ready for a fused night of jazz, soul, afrobeat Nubiyan Twist sounds. I had been warned prior to the gig that Nubiyan Twist were ten times better in the flesh than on record. They certainly proved the rumours to be true.
There was a collective silence when we initially walked into the venue, the usual buzz pre gig seemingly dissipated in order to admire support act Ayanna Witter-Johnson, as she performed a rendition of Roxanne by The Police. Armed with just a cello, sweet vocals and funky leotard, her performance was enthralling and warm. She even asked the audience if they had any requests. The performance ended with Sing on Nightingale, a touching tribute to Ayanna’s good friend and poet Michael who passed away not long ago.
"You can’t help but admire the craftmanship and dexterity of every member, who all swap and change instruments throughout"
Then for the main act. Nubiyan Twist walk onto the stage. From just Ayanna Witter-Johnson and her cello on stage, to a collective of 10 plus people and every instrument you could think of bouncing about the stage. The party had begun. It’s hard to pigeon hole the group into one genre, who describe themselves on their website as being a fusion of jazz, hip-hop, afrobeat, Latin, soul, reggae and dance music. The whole performance was one big build up, exploring a piece of each of those genres along the way. First up, they are joined by Ria Moran, a songwriter, composer and performer who has joined the group on their tour. Here we hear the R&B influence on the collective, with their song Morning Light. Then member Nick Richards takes to the mic to perform the third single from their latest album, soulful number Buckle Up. The whole time you can’t help but admire the craftmanship and dexterity of every member, who all swap and change instruments throughout. There’s not a dull moment during the whole set.
The trumpets and bongos take centre stage for Ma Wonka, my personal favourite Nubiyan Twist track. Suddenly the energy shoots up, with the entry of K.O.G, Ghanaian artist and regular collaborator with the collective. With contagious dance moves and ferocious vocals, K.O.G and the collective hold tight onto the audience, taking us right to the streets of Ghana. With each song, it felt as if the music crept into your veins just that little bit more, finishing on some of their most energetic numbers like If I Know. Basically, the whole thing just felt like one big party; celebrating music from around the world and musicians that are insanely talented at what they do. I left Rescue Rooms wanting to dance for the rest of the week.
Written by: Izzy Felton
Edited by: Joe Hughes