I first caught ADF in Prague when I was a big Ninjabeats fan, and the show was quite inspiring… a second show in Berlin was dull as hell, so I can only come to the conclusion that either they were having a bad day, or they play better in smaller venues…
So it is with some trepidation that I say I might catch them a third time in the mega-world music festival WOMAD, which is celebrating its 10th year here in Singapore. If I go this year, I’d have to say this is probably the only show I’ll go to, and I’ll tell you why.
Bassist Dr. Das retired from ADF in May 2006 to resume teaching and producing his own music. He was replaced by Martin Savale, aka Babu Stormz, who also plays bass with highly acclaimed British-Asian electro /grunge /hip-hop band Swami.
They followed this line up change with the release of a compilation Time Freeze: The Best of Asian Dub Foundation, which includes a bonus disc of rare remixes and live tracks (featuring Public Enemy’s lead rapper Chuck D). The album also features a new track recorded with former vocalist Deeder Zaman. I want to see if the original energy is back.
Apparently it is. In May this year, Asian Dub Foundation performed a radio session and interview on BBC Radio1’s Bobby and Nihal show, where they performed three kick ass new tracks; ‘Climb On’, ‘Superpower’, and ‘S.O.C.A.’. They’ll be coming here on the follow up to their June performance at the Festival of Gnawa music in Essaouira, Morocco, where they were the only Western act to perform, playing to a crowd of 60, 000 people and collaborating with traditional Gnawa musicians. I look forward to the DVD.
Maybe the Berlin show was just an off day; 12 years, five studio albums, two live albums, many EP’s, several world tours, major festival appearances and even an Opera. And even after all this, ADF are still one of the most incendiary, relevant, outspoken, truthful, honest bands in the world today.
In an era when there seems to be little or no political or emotional engagement between bands and the world around them (other than the self-absorbed whining of Emo, or the gangsta culture of Hip-Hop) what a refreshing thing it is to have a band that believes in the power of music to change the world.
From their earliest days they fought for people’s rights – culminating in the night when a free Satpal Ram was able to join them onstage in London; on Tank, their last album, they foretold the disaster awaiting the US and UK in Iraq following the overthrow of Saddam; throughout their careers they have had something to say – and they have said it by shouting loud and hard!
Fusing the Punk DIY ethic with Funk, Hip-Hop, Asian music and LOUD guitars, ADF have long been a live staple at colleges, clubs and bigger venues all around the world and this summer will see them appearing at several festivals including WOMAD in between bouts in the studio recording their next album with producer Adrian Sherwood. Boo-yah!