Nu Civlisation Orchestra review - Ambitious project wins friends at Brighton Dome

Performing an all-time great album in its entirety is a tall order, especially one as beautifully realised as Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On.

Noel McCoy with the Nu Civilisation Orchestra SUS-210311-173547001

Performing an all-time great album in its entirety is a tall order, especially one as beautifully realised as Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On.

London-based jazz collective the Nu Civilisation did an admirable job of celebrating the 50th anniversary of Gaye’s seminal release at Brighton Dome on Saturday (October 30), without, unsuprisingly, ever approaching the majesty of the original.

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The performance was bolstered by British singer and former James Taylor Quartet collaborator Noel McKoy, whose powerful voice lent appropriately soulful gravitas to proceedings.

The Nu Civlisation Orchestra presents What's Going On

Leaving aside the impossible task of measuring up to the perfectly produced, almost celestial, sound of What’s Going On, the Orchestra (established by established by jazz education organisation Tomorrow’s Warriors) filled the Dome with some gorgeous sounds and musically really flexed their muscles on Inner City Blues (Make me Wanna Holler).

They sounded even better in the first part of the show, a groove-heavy glide through Gaye’s 12th studio album the soundtrack to Blaxploitation movie Trouble Man. The title tune and reworked suites of the soundtrack, had the distinct advantage of unfamiliarity. Wah-wah guitar, sleazy sax and insistent percussion sounded every note like 70s American cinema, and there’s a chance that music streaming services may well have encountered a sudden post-gig spike in searches for album in the Sussex area.

Perhaps as important was the spirit of the evening which drew parallels between the fractured post-Vietnam U.S. landscape which the soul legend drew upon to create What’s Going On in 1971, and the increasingly polarised world today.

Local poet and activist AFLO roused the BN1 rabble with some home-grown observations, while on-screen visuals shifted from the hellish sights of 1970s inner-city life to the nightmarish modern-day return of food banks. Half a century , it’s a shame the record’s sentiments are still so relevant.

Marvin Gaye walking ahead of his Rolls Royce in Notting Hill, London. (Photo by John Minihan/Evening Standard/Getty Images) SUS-210311-173630001

To find out more about Tomorrow’s Warriors visit https://tomorrowswarriors.org/