Brighton Festival: A Change Is Gonna Come – Music for Human Rights
Brighton Dome Concert Hall
Tuesday 22nd May, 2018
Beginning with Coltrane’s iconic composition Alabama, Nubya Garcia confidently displayed both the technique and emotional depth required to produce a version of this deeply moving memorial to the four children murdered by members of the Ku Klux Klan in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963.
This was followed by a beautiful, memorable duet between Nikki Yeoh and Carleen Anderson, Woody Guthrie’s poignant song about homelessness I Ain’t Got No Home in this World Anymore.
Rapper Speech Debelle put across her message in a more direct manner, with extended verses and melodic choruses.
The highlight of the concert came halfway through the second set with Nikki Yeoh’s inspired arrangement of the Nina Simone classic Four Women. Beginning with Rod Youngs playing mallets on the drums followed by sparse keyboard lines they created the perfect backdrop for Carleen Anderson’s astonishing high voice that resonated across a silent theatre, with the capacity audience hanging on to every note. An updated and contemporary arrangement of the tune went from a slow and deeply moving stillness which was followed by Nubya Garcia’s interweaving melodic lines, building up the tension until chaotic sounds preceded the climax as Nikki Yeoh threw her entire body at the piano keyboard. This was beautifully arranged music played with passion and energy.
Whilst Yeoh, Anderson and Garcia took ownership of the tunes and made them their own, it was a little disappointing that Speech Debelle hadn’t done the same with Gil Scott-Heron’s The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. This was a concert that embraced not just the music of social change but also hope for a better future, as well as producing some energetic, moving and memorable music.
(photo of Carleen Anderson by Hassan-Hajjaj)
Carleen Anderson, piano, keyboard and vocals; Speech Debelle, vocals; Nikki Yeoh, piano, keyboard and vocals; Nubya Garcia, tenor saxophone; Renell Shaw, bass guitar and vocals; Rod Youngs, drums.