GIG Review: Watcha Clan at The Rich Mix

Watcha Clan Rich Mix, London 15/03/11

Watcha Clan hail from Marseille, one of the gates into the Mediterranean world, a crossroads where populations have been mixing since the Greeks colonised it in 600 BC, exchanging political ideas and no doubt trading musical secrets.  Radio Babel, named after the infamous tower which is said to be the root of so much misunderstanding amongst the human race, is the theme running through this live version of Watcha Clan’s latest CD offering, a plea to all to listen to each other on this fragmented planet.

 Suprem Clem, the talented electronics wizard, starts off the show, extracting beats from a crackly radiophonic chaos tinted with Arabic calls, distant voices and swinging horns. The masterful double bass riffs of Matt Labesse accentuate that swing in such a funky way that our feet are soon moving to a drum’n bass rhythm.  Nassim Kouti, dressed as a Touareg walks on playing the powerful Saharan gimbri, an instrument created to induce trance. Later, Nassim will exchange his gimbri for an electric guitar to include a heavy metal solo in “Goumari”. Finally, Sista K enters, cutting a fine figure, dreadlocked and ethereal in her graceful dance moves. Her compelling voice, repeating “We are one” rises above the now addictive pulsation and takes us, in turns, to all four corners of the Mediterranean, from the Balkans, with the help of astounding Merlin Shepherd on clarinet, to Israel for a memorable and tearfully emotional “Im Nin’alu”, courtesy of Sista K; to the Maghreb with the gnawa krakebs, large iron castanets in “Hasnaduro”. 

Watcha Clan‘s message has not faltered for the last ten years, clear and without ambiguity; various voices in the mix are heard throughout the gig claiming that “ it is time to make peace in every land”, “violence will happen with or without walls”, and “Nobody owns the land”. A unique sound in world music with its finger on the pulse, that’s Watcha Clan coming of age.

 

Joel Roszykiewicz