Asian Dub Foundation - Manchester Academy 2 - 23.2.03

As Tony Blair prepares to ignore us, follow George Bush like a poodle and press ahead with the "War Against Terrorism"  regardless of 2 million people on the Steets of London a week earlier we need bands like Asian Dub Foundation more than ever. It's seems pointless to even care about music at times like this and I guess what were saying with "bands" we could substitute for "human" because at the end of the day the fact they're in a band is only relevant because they have a platform to speak from for which the average person on the street doesn't have unless they collectively come together in rally's or protests.

Over the last couple of years things in the ADF camp have changed in terms of personnel and sound. Out are the trademark drum & bass meets punk rock guitar soundclashes and in it's place is a truly universal sound dipping into hip-hop and breakbeats. Also out is former rapper Dee Daa and in are Aktar and Spex on rapping duties, Rocky on drums and Cyber on Punjabi drums. Of course there is still the element of the familiar with Pandit G, Dr Das and Chadrasonic still fighting on but essentially is a new band with a new surge of energy to take their vision to a global level. As they launch into the first song it's clear the influence that producer Adrian Sherwood has had on the bands live sound as well as in the studio. The bass is deeper than it's ever been and fused with Rocky's pounding beats on top of the digital soundtrack ADF are on fire like those early dates with "R.A.F.I" when they first came to national prominence. What they gain in musical knowledge has been lost in the MC-ing of Aktar and Spex who are clearly no match for the one-man firecracker that was Dee Daa. In the old days you could sense the fire raging on in Dee Daa's soul and it just isn't evident with the new guys. The fact that Dee Daa was a heart-throb in a world of politics and could really have been the bands spokesperson for the Smash Hits generation is incidental, but it's worth mentioning all the same.

It's easy to forget just how many era defining songs they've made throughout the years and when we look in retrospect the politics have always been spot on and yet at the same time as relevant to today as when they were written. "Free Saptal Ram", a song for the recently released Saptal Ram who was imprisoned for defending himself in a racist attack, is still relevant for the simple fact that the fight doesn't stop with one person while their are still innocents locked up in prison cells. "Real Great Britain" they call for the real Great Britain to step forward and stop looking backward, "Blowback" they attempt to tackle the aftermath of September 11th and states that it was only the blow back of America's foreign policy that cause the atrocities in the first place. And of course the recent single "Fortress Europe" which encourages immigrants to bang down the walls of Fortress Europe. And you know what - you can't disagree with what they say because ADF are no rock & roll punks spouting rhetoric without actually having the knowledge to back it up. For every single song in their repertoire they could explain at length what it's about and point you in the right direction to find out the facts, but that's not for the live shows where the idea is simply to dance and then take away what you can from the show. Asian Dub Foundation are simply the most important band that Britain has right now!!!

Alex McCann

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