WORDS AND IMAGES BY WAREN MILLAR
‘If Music Is Therapy BCUC Give That Therapy In Bucket Loads Joyful, Cultural, Angry, Soulful’
Tonight we are in Liverpool Baltic Triangle area in one of it’s many venues “District” for “Bantu Continua Uhuru Consciousness” better know as BUCU. It’s been a few years now since we came across this seven member band from Soweto, South Africa at Africa Oye festival where they totally smashed their set with their “afro-psychedelic future pop” and then went on to critical acclaim with some brilliant reviews at Glastonbury in 2019.
The band formed in 2003, and sings in all 11 of the official languages of South Africa. The band consists of Nkosi “Jovi” Zithulele, Kgomotso Mokone, Thabo “Cheex” Mangle, Mritho Luja, Lehlohonolo “Hloni” Maphunye, Mosebetsi Nzimande and Skhumbuzo Mahlangu. Their third album “The Healing” came out in 2019 with The Guardian describing it as “continuing to surprise” and “exhilarating”. They have come a very long way from their early days of rehearsing in a shipping container in the township of Soweto but their music is drawn from this experience and life and draw inspiration from war songs and ritualistic music in a modern take on African beats and melody.
As we enter “District” we hear the sounds of Africa pumping out of the PA system and alone on stage is a DJ pumping out rhythmic African tunes. No support act tonight just “BCUC” once the crowd has been well a truly been acclimatised to what is about to come.
At just before 9pm the DJ deck is cleared from the stage and all that’s left on stage are two base drums a set of bongos and on front of stage three mike stands. No set lists set out on stage, no stage crew setting up guitars checking tuning or messing about with vast drum kits. Just one guy laying out towels and bottles at each place ready for the band to come on stage.
On stage they come just after 9pm and start off at a slow rhythmical pace but this wasn’t going to last for long. For anyone who has seen BCUC live you will know these guys give off so much energy in their performance. Its mesmerising to see and listen to. Yes it’s not your average western music but it so addictive, the beats, the rhythm, the chants and voices just get you and pull you in. It’s very hard to pin down any style of music but if you can imagine a South African beat combined with soul, hip-hop, trance and a little funk well that’s pretty close, but if I’m totally honest you just have to see them live to appreciate just how good and talented these guys are.
Nkosi Zithulele is a born lead man. His voice is powerful, sometimes angry, soulful, very in tune and just at the right times as forceful as any voice I have ever heard without losing any clarity. He moves about on stage with typical African dance moves and jumps.The other band members fit in perfectly with their vocals especially the bands female member Kgomotso Mokone who has a voice to die for again with that typical South African, Zulu vibe running alongside western influences. All this is held together by the bass lines from Mosebetsi Nzimande who seems to be the framework that holds the ever changing beats together. Looking into the crowd it’s plain to see the enjoyment they get from listening live to “BCUC” some are even dancing trance like to the rhythm and we can well understand why, it grabs you, brings you in and can’t fail to make you move.
If music is therapy BCUC give that therapy in bucket loads joyful, cultural, angry, soulful and very very enjoyable. We must say this again, you just have to see these guys live to appreciate what they bring to the musical table, it’s a veritable feast of cultural passion brought forward to the present day. No fuss just brilliant talented and very likable musicians. For a smallish gig in a mid size venue this gig will without a doubt be one of the highlights of our own personal 2022. One word to leave you with ………… Outstanding, thank you “Bantu Continua Uhuru Consciousness” aka BCUC.
Warren is a live music and festival photographer based in Cheshire and covers gigs/festivals mostly in the North West of England. He has been photographing live music for over 10 years and has covered major artists and festivals