Dub Colossus, Nov 10th, Bloomsbury Ballroom: review

As with any Dub band bass is key and the Colossus groove doesn’t disappoint. Add in the rumbling trombone and pretty soon the soles of your feet are tingling with soporific steadiness; like cold lager with curry it’s the perfect accompaniment to the Ethiopian supergroup’s infectious brassy pazazz. The elegant décor of London’s Bloomsbury Ballroom is yet more icing on the cake.
packshotEn route to the WOMAD festival in the Canaries this is Colossus’ only London appearance this year. Azmari Dub with its shuddering opening horns was an early crowd pleaser while Tizita Dub is a great introduction the haunting sound of the Masenqo fiddle although the sparse but loyal crowd here on a cold November night suggested few of the uninitiated were present. The lilting Ambassel with its images of Addis Abbaba in the cool of the evening was the perfect closer.

Never ones to do things by half, tonight’s beefed up 12-piece Dub Colossus includes as always two singers: Tsedenia Gebremarkos and Sintayehu Zenebe — the latter with a nice line in ululating breast-wiggling synchronicity. But here the African cliches end — yes, a lot of the songs are in the Ethiopian Azmari tradition but the roots of this band’s sound lie in guitarist and uber-producer Nick ‘Dubulah’ Page’s own rich musical knowledge. Steeped in the legacy of bands like Jamaica’s Abysinnians — themselves influenced by African Rasta sounds — Page and his pet Ethiopian project are simply going full circle, taking roots music back to its roots and along the way showcasing some of Africa’s best talents.

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