With the Bhangra day timer seemingly making a comeback, we thought it only right that we look at the whole Bhangra gig scene in a nostalgic way, mapping our way through the bands, the coaches and everything else that made the Bhangra gig scene special, over to you Nandeep Singh, make us reminisce.
Article By Nandeep Singh: I went to uni in Brum between 94 and 98, so witnessed the likes of Malkit and Safri battling it out for supremacy, whilst DCS and Apna Sangeet were still heavyweights on the gig scene.
I saw the introduction of Jazzy B to the UK gig scene, as well as one of Bindrakhia’s first performances at a gig in the UK. Towards the end of my time at uni we saw a transition from live sets to PA’s, and the Band that many “blamed” for the death of the live scene – B21 were selling out venues up and down the country.
Back in those days the Midlands and down to Watford was Kushty promotions territory, up north (oh yes Bradistans Maestro’s) was boxed off by Tony from Untouchables promotions. The Londoners had Big Baba promotions and Smudge for their gigs at Bagleys,Zenith and Equinox.
These are the names I can recall from flyers, I’m sure there were plenty more. These were end of term gigs, and I know every city had regular weekly nights too such as limelight etc – but we are just focusing on the big once a term gigs for this article.
This was prior to my “daaru peeni band karti” days, and as a poor student if you knew you were going to a gig you’d be budgeting from the weekend before. One had to ensure you had enough paisa to have a good session, before the gig as you knew the clubs would “shell laa” with their prices.
I’m afraid there was no Ciroc or Grey Goose in those days it was Bacardi sessions and perhaps Smirnoffs, But seeing fridges stocked full of Bacardi was not an uncommon site in any UK students kitchen.
On the day of the gig, you’d arrange to meet the lads just after lunch (more than likely you’d miss all your afternoon lectures if you had any) in the student Union and start off the session there,
Now, if like us you knew the security you could bring your own bottle into the Student Union provided you gave them a glassy too. You’d end up getting more bottles in, and end up taking the session to one of the lads student digs.
You’d blast some desi tunes on the tape deck sing along and carry on with the session. There’s been many occasions when some lads got too wrecked and never made it to the gig. The plan was to be back at the student union to get on the coach and get a quick pint in.
The coaches were always a good laugh, lots of booze and music, what could go wrong?
Once at the venue you’d end up queuing for what seemed ages especially if it was raining. Some venues and organisers let coach parties in quicker. You’d always end up seeing relatives at these gigs, and the female ones would make you promise not to tell their parents.
After plenty of naching in the club, you’d have anthems like putt sardaran de by Safri which would bring the house down – folks would go crazy on that tune. There would be the odd panga of course at every gig, what else would you expect with that many drunken Asians in one venue.
The end of the night would mean getting a dirty greasy kebab from one of the many vendors outside the clubs, this would sort you out for the journey home – most people would probably throw it up on the way home in the coach. The journey home was always quieter, most people wanted to sleep. By the time we’d get back to Uni it would be around 3-4am so you’d stumble home get some kip before attending your 9am lecture (was that convincing enough).
What were my Gig highlights?
Safri v Malkit
This was often billed as battle of the turbans on flyers. You’d do well to attend a gig that didn’t have one of these if not both performing. Seeing them perform at their peak was a treat, and those that never got see these legends during that period … boy did you miss out.
Malkit was buzzing due to his successful partnership with Ravi Bal for Midas Touch and Forever Gold, and he would have the crowd in his hands with Mitthe Ganney.
Safri Boys with their talented musicians (Bhota, Happy, and the gang) were in my opinion winning – Certainly at the venues I saw them (Krystals,MGM’s and Kudos). Safri’s rendition of Putt sardaran De from the Death Jamm single was the one that always sticks in my memory.
Jazzy B’s introduction to the UK
One of the first UK gigs Jazzy B did was in Krystals in Leicester. There was a buzz as everyone wanted to see what this young Canadian could do. He didn’t disappoint, and the crowd were mesmerized by this young lad who sounded like Kuldeep Manak , but his whole get up just seemed a million miles away from his singing style.
The legendary Surjit Bindrakhia came to krystals in Leicester, and the man killed it. Everyone was on the dance floor when he belted out dupatta tera sat rang da. I don’t think I’ve witnessed anything like that ever since.
Failed gig promoter
Me and my mates once tried badly to organise a coach to maestros in Bradford for a gig. However we failed badly and only managed to get 15 people. But fair play we took the hit and still went ahead and took the coach up to the gig. After that “Kannan nu hath laa laye” never again doing that shit, leave it to the professionals.
The rise of B21
As mentioned before towards the end of my time at uni we started to see the rise of B21. Think it was my final year when By Public Demand came out, and they were riding high on the success of that. Bally Jagpal was also making waves with his production skills and Jatti with a lighter was a bit of a club anthem. I recall seeing them at the church on Broad Street in Brum, and they had the crowd in their hands.
Fight at the Service Station.
Just like this video, lots of pushing, shoving and so many heroes
On the way back from a gig in Leicester the coach stopped at the services, and everyone got off. There was a coach with some wolves folk on, and one of them made a racist comment. It went off big time in the car park, it was like royal rumble no joke. We had the five-o come on our coach to take some people off for questioning. Good ol’days hey.
Amarjit Sidhu’s Gig at the dome
Amarjit Sidhu used to organise the bhangra awards shows at the Dome many moons ago, I remember attending a gig organised by him at the dome which wasn’t awards related. This wasn’t a student gig, but it had a line up which pretty much had every band worth their salt performing. The fact it wasn’t a student gig meant it attracted the taxi driver uncles too though. But the performances on the night were great.
Volume on this recording is not the best so turn it up load