Live Review: Nubiyan Twist – The Forum, Sheffield 1.10.2021

It’s a pet hate of mine, people referring to seemingly everything they do as a journey. Join me on my journey to becoming a plumber/singer/footballer fills the internet and TV, as i scoff and say to Mrs Mafia “Me going to Tesco is journey, me driving to work is journey – that (whatever it might be) is not a sodding journey”, and so I turn my middle aged attentions to other things of ire, such as teenagers eating in bedrooms and the unforgivable crime of spelling lose as loose (come the Revolution and all that).

So as I sit and write a review of one of the best shows I’ve seen in a long time, Leeds jazz-Afro crew Nubiyan Twist at Sheffield Universities student Union venue, The Forum, I’m faced with it. There’s no other way around it really, dammit. It was a journey.

Largely taken from their Freedom Fables album, augmented with one or two back catalogue favourites and the odd cover, the band are in terrific form, as are the packed audience. Having always liked what I heard but never having really dived deep into the bands canon, abbé that’s what makes it so special. I know they were good, I just didn’t know they were this good.

So this journey starts in jazz funk. The band, during the course of the next hour or so, all take turns in showing their searing individuality, technique and jazz shops, with incredible solos passed around from guitar, to brass, to saxophones, to piano, as the rhythm section keeps everything in check and ticking along. Vocalist Ria Moran joins the party bringing her soulful pipes to the fore.

Before you know it though, the band has moved through electro, jazz, dub reggae, electro house and world hip-hop seemlessly, the nine piece band putting their own stamp on each. Sheffield rapper/hi-life singer/MC K.O.G. is brought on to the stage as the band move into hi-life/Afrobeat mode as they ramp up the set. Already on the edge of delirium the crowd lose it as the band smash it, K.O.G. Conducting both at the front as he spits his rhymes and orchestrates the crowd jumping around and joining in. In the end it’s more like a punk gig than a jazz one, and we all loved it.

If you haven’t seen them, you need to see them. Despite my grammatical reservations, it’s a hell of a journey.

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