Asian Dub Foundation review – forceful but also funny

ABC2, Glasgow
On what they called 'sort of our 20th anniversary', ADF let their music do the majority of the talking

Asian Dub Foundation have long specialised in super-colliding punk, reggae, bhangra and rap into something both politicised and danceable, so it's hard to imagine them doing anything quietly. Yet despite remaining creatively active over the past decade, they've seemed mostly absent from the mainstream cultural conversation, particularly compared to their rabble-rousing heyday in the late-1990s and early 2000s.

After various line-up reshuffles and label changes, the band are back on an even keel. Their next gig will be in New York, treating Brooklyn hipsters to the world premiere of their soundtrack to George Lucas's oppressive 1971 sci-fi outlier THX-1138. During this cramped, sweaty Glasgow appearance, they are forceful but also funny. "This is sort of our 20th anniversary," says guitarist Chandrasonic. Rapper Aktarv8r disagrees: "Is it not the 21st?"

Often bands with a political message tend to preach at length between songs. ADF let their music do the majority of the talking, a canny move, since much of it grabs you by the lapels. A History of Now rails against app-addicted culture, climaxing in a crowd shoutalong that increases in volume and stridency like classic Rage Against the Machine.

New single Zig Zag Nation features a catchy loop from gifted flautist and beatboxer Nathan Lee, who later combines both those talents simultaneously in his own impressive showcase.

Jungle has rarely sounded as juddering than on Flyover, but ADF's sustained militant fusillade eventually feels a little exhausting, although they do finish strong. After Fortress Europe, built around a thrilling sample of agitated Bollywood strings, they dedicate their last song to "the people of Gaza".

Rebel Warrior – about a reincarnated spiritual avenger summoned by injustice – sounds much beefier live than it did on record almost two decades ago yet remains, sadly, as relevant as ever.


Graeme Virtue

The GuardianTramp

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