There's an optimism and energy to [a]ADF[/a] which puts wings on their worthiness...
Decksanddrumsandrockand, erm, fishing. As a prelude to the main
[a]Asian Dub Foundation[/a] gig a septet of saffron-costumed fishermen, the Chittagong Drummers, line up to jam rhythms with [a]ADF[/a]’s Pandit G, Chandrasonic and Dr Das.
To the blinkered Western rock mind, Bangladeshi netheads trancing with the Foundation might look ‘exotic’ but given that a) tonight’s show forms part of the Bangladesh Festival and b) fishing is vastly bigger than the music business will ever be, a little less arrogance is in order.
“This is possibly going to sound like Miles Davis circa 1972,” announces Dr Das wryly. Actually it sounds like Can played by a very loud orchestra of wooden spoons, but with Das acting the Jah Wobble and Chandrasonic‘s improv guitars wigging out admirably, the hypnotic fusion is joyous enough.
Having converted the Barbican’s seated throng of combat-togged kids to the pleasures of inter-culture rave the Foundation then return to what they do best – big fun, step-up polemics.
“I know it feels like school assembly but you can stand up,” says Chandrasonic as ‘Charge’‘s wall of drum’n’ragga piles forth. Immediately the crowd are up and bouncing, the floor’s turning spongy and the Barbican security are looking nervous.
To qualify for true greatness all bands must at some stage showcase new songs at a stuffy, seated venue, with fishermen as special guests. [a]ADF[/a] do so tonight and still blow the place apart. ‘Will The Real Great Britain Stand Up’ is pure gunpowder for the dancefloor. ‘Collective Mode’ uses Bollywood dub for some post-Blair analysis whilst remaining light years away from Chumbawamba-isms.
There’s an optimism and energy to [a]ADF[/a] which puts wings on their worthiness. A debut of polychromatic slowie ‘Taadeem’ – a tribute to qawwali king Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan – ought to be all global earnestness but Sun-J‘s unrestrained Bolly-popping ensures otherwise. Pivoting around Master D’s hip-hop Bez dancing and ear-melting MC-ing, the Foundation elicit a full onstage invasion with ‘Buzzin’‘, drowning in bobbing kids until The Man threatens to pull the plugs.
Order is precariously restored but seditious rhythms continue to kick as they highlight the ongoing suffering of Satpal Ram (big clouts to the Home Secretary), blaze through his freedom song, and then recall the Chittagong tribe to extend a raging encore of new song ‘Rebel Warrior’ into an infinite finale of roots heritage dervishing.
The Anglo-Asian Clash may not have razed the Barbican but they certainly reclaimed the beats. Still the best band in Real Britain.