REVIEW: China Moses and the Vibe Tribe

Turner Sims Administrative Intern Lydia Cline gives us her thoughts on China Moses, who performed here on January 12, 2019, as part of our Autumn Season. 

On January 12th, 2019, myself and two of my flatmates dressed in all our fineries to watch China Moses and her Vibe Tribe turn Turner Sims into a smoky Parisian jazz bar, a glitzy MTV party, and the train tracks between cultures in Flint, Michigan. From the moment China Moses entered the stage in all her sequined glory, until the last song where the entire audience stood up to dance and sing, we were completely entranced by the high-voltage energy capturing the stage. I could not have looked away if I had tried.

The majority of the concert was made up of pieces from Moses’ most recent album, Nightintales. A clever reference to her beautiful vocals and the stories she weaves before the songs and through the music. A particular favourite of mine was Put it on the Line, a sexy story of how she met her ex-husband. The double bass, played by Neil Charles, featured heavily in this one, as China counts up the whiskies she’s had and warns us all, ‘don’t judge’. Another favourite was Whatever, preceded by a lovely tribute to a wife in the audience from her husband who wanted to dedicate the song to her for her birthday, but what actually turned out to be an incredibly sad piece about the vulnerability of allowing yourself to be in love and then broken-hearted.

The ‘Vibe Tribe’ command the stage, in their own right. Mike Gorman’s piano-playing is a melancholy catharsis, especially in Whatever, where he has a haunting solo. Josiah Woodson shines on both the trumpet and bass guitar; euphoric and wild. Neil Charles on bass guitar and double bass conveys a funky undertone to the music that is hypnotising. Tiss Rodriguez is a thunderstorm on stage, attacking the drums with such a rhythmic frenzy that the drums themselves could not take it, and had to be re-adjusted by two different stagehands. A lesser band may panic and worry about this problem but China Moses and her Vibe Tribe took it in their stride, and laughed it off. Their utter enjoyment of each other’s musical powers is thoroughly heart-warming. They dance, cheer, and clap each other on, and it is clear to see that they enjoy playing together.
Moses’s style is funky and jazzy, but you would be wrong in thinking the show was in any way antiquated. China and her Vibe Tribe breathe life into every song. At multiple points through the performance, an iPad is used by China to remix her vocals live. Even her own songs become new.
Ultimately, China Moses and the Vibe Tribe were a fantastic band to see live; their smouldering energy is something I would never want to miss. On their own, each member is a skilled musician, but together they create a performance that truly transfixes, and is hard to shake. I look forward to seeing where their vibe takes them.

Catch more amazing Jazz this Spring! 

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