Six date tour of the UK kicks off during Black History Month.

Saturday 30th October BRIGHTON Dome TICKETS
Friday 12th November BRISTOL St. Georges TICKETS
Thursday 18th November LONDON Queen Elizabeth Hall TICKETS
Friday 19th November BIRMINGHAM Town Hall TICKETS
Wednesday 24th November LIVERPOOL Philharmonic Hall TICKETS
Friday 26th November CANTERBURY The Gulbenkian TICKETS
Nu Civilisation Orchestra presents What’s Going On: Celebrating Marvin Gaye’s iconic album… 50 years on, the struggle continues…

Conducted by Peter Edwards, the 23-piece Nu Civilisation Orchestra (NCO), featuring Nathaniel Facey (alto sax), Cherise (vocals), Romarna Campbell and Rod Youngs (drums) and Sarah Tandy (piano), as well as the orchestra’s formidable horns, strings and backing vocalists, will make a perfectly timed creative exploration and celebration of Gaye’s seminal masterpiece, five decades after its release, with immersive visual projections by Yeast Culture.

There will also be spoken word from poets and artists representing each city: award-winning actor Colin Salmon (London), AFLO. the poet (Brighton), poet, author and bandleader Malik Al Nasir (Liverpool), spoken word artist Saili Katebe (Bristol) and local poet laureate Casey Bailey (Birmingham), with Canterbury’s poet to be announced. 
Noel McKoy. Credit: Damien Duncan

The tour will see NCO reflect on our current times through the lens of Marvin Gaye’s incredible catalogue. What’s Going On was recorded and released in 1971 and gave voice to a generation, as it reflected on the violence and turmoil of America with laser-sharp precision. Widely recognised as one of the most important albums of all time, 50 years later What’s Going On continues to resonate with the inequality, struggle and uncertainty of the modern day. 

Nu Civilisation Orchestra presents Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On will be a fitting homage to a legend that inspired and connected generations and promises to be a magical, powerful and unmissable evening.

My admiration for Marvin Gaye’s music has always been so high. I met Marvin in the 80s and, obviously being a fan of What’s Going On, I’m thrilled to be a part of this project. Since the release of the album to the present day, every time I’ve heard it or sung it I think to myself that mothers are actually still crying – ever more so – and young brothers are still dying. The tracks from this album were and still are the benchmark of soulful commentary from a black man’s experience which can be related to across the globe. Its spirit and honesty remain potent to this very day. I’m immensely looking forward to working with Peter Edwards and Nu Civilisation Orchestra. For me this is going to be a performance of a lifetime.

Noel McKoy

“The What’s Going On tour will be a wonderful way to celebrate our 30th anniversary through one of the greatest albums of all time, while also highlighting the fact that the struggle continues. Marvin very much had anti-war sentiment in his heart, plus inner-city blues, social deprivation and inequality in the community. It is as relevant today as ever and it is important to ponder on, as so many of the challenges then apply now.  Thanks to all six of the UK venues and Serious who produce the London Jazz Festival, all of whom we have partnered with us to produce this ambitious tour. It’s going to be a powerful evening of music and we can’t wait to hit the road with the NCO.”

Gary Crosby OBE
Artistic Director, Tomorrow’s Warriors

“Marvin Gaye’s landmark album “What’s Going On” is pivotal in music history not only with its statement making story line around inequality, struggle and injustice but also as an artistic masterpiece to lead to progression in soul, characterising the revolutionary vision of black music. Still relevant in its 50th year, EFG London Jazz Festival is proud to present the celebration of this iconic recording through the lens and talent of brilliant Nu Civilisation Orchestra and Peter Edwards. We are thrilled to strengthen our continuing collaborations with Tomorrow’s Warriors in their 30th year with this monumental project.”

Pelin Opcin
Director, Serious

The Nu Civilisation Orchestra has a vision to bring new expression to classic repertoire and to provide a platform for new arrangements and compositions from some of the most exciting young musicians in the UK today.

What’s Going On will begin with a prelude based on Gaye’s Trouble Man, that will create the cultural setting for the album through music, projections and spoken word. The second part of the show will focus on the genius of What’s Going On, conjuring up Gaye’s extraordinary song cycle and the tumultuous personal and political circumstances that drove the singer’s music-making. 

In partnership with some of the best British music venues and organisations around the UK, funded by Arts Council England National Lottery Funds, the six date UK tour kicks off during October’s Black History Month in Brighton, then visits Bristol, Birmingham, Liverpool and Canterbury, plus a London show at Queen Elizabeth Hall as part of the EFG London Jazz Festival’s ‘Elements’ series.

The tour is produced by Tomorrow’s Warriors, which celebrates its 30th year in 2021.

“Marvin Gaye was partially inspired to write ‘What’s Going On’ 50 years ago after witnessing police brutality and, following the murder of George Floyd and subsequent BLM uprisings, this piece is still so painfully relevant in the fight for racial equity and social justice. Marvin had to go on strike to get What’s Going On released after fears it was ‘too political’ – artists like Marvin have paved the way for artists like me to speak their minds on the unfortunate truths of our society.  As an artist and activist who embraces creativity to encourage social change, it will truly be an honour and a privilege to write and perform to Marvin Gaye’s music alongside the Nu Civilisation Orchestra in Brighton on the first night of the What’s Going On tour.”

AFLO. the poet

There are certain artists who will always be an important part of music. Marvin Gaye is one of those artists. Paying tribute to the work he brought to life is an honour, having the opportunity to do that collaboratively with Nu Civilisation Orchestra really emphasises the unifying power of their work. It’s an honour to be celebrating the late great Marvin Gaye’s canon this way.” 

Saili Katebe

“‘What’s Going On’ is a question, a greeting and a statement of care as relevant now as it was back in the day. Tomorrow’s Warriors are what’s going on! Their influence on the UK music scene is already taking everything deeper and I’m thrilled to be collaborating with them. Trouble Man is an extraordinary symphonic piece. That’s how the composer Marvin Gaye viewed it.  Its greatness has been hiding in plain sight.  Nu Civilisation Orchestra will re-frame it and bring it to a new space for new audiences and I’m simply honoured to have been asked to add my voice on this journey.”

Colin Salmon

“I grew up in a house where it wasn’t rare to hear the amazing sound of Marvin Gaye jumping out of the speakers. To find myself taking to the stage in this amazing event now is a privilege and a blessing. I can’t wait to tell you what’s going on.”

Casey Bailey

“It’s heart-breaking to think that 50 years after Marvin Gaye’s release of his thought-provoking album ‘What’s Going On’ we are burying George Floyd and others and marching to the same tune, against a backdrop of the same police brutality. It’s now up to the artists of the future to pick up the baton and carry on the fight for justice. The aptly named Tomorrows Warriors are doing just that, under the direction of Gary Crosby and conducted by Peter Edwards, with the incredible Nu Civilisation Orchestra. It will be my pleasure to join them for a special guest appearance at their Liverpool show”.

Malik Al Nasir

2 thoughts on “Nu Civilisation Orchestra presents: What’s Going On – Celebrating Marvin Gaye’s iconic album

  1. Absolutely wonderful evening of music and the spoken word in Brighton tonight. It was uplifting and heartwarming. So relevant for todays world.
    Thank you to Nu Civilisation orchestra and Tomorrow’s Warriors. Keep up the work!

  2. Absolutely blown away by the concert at St George’s Bristol on Friday evening… utterly brilliant!!! How can I get a copy of the tour poster please?

Leave a Reply to Rosy McConnellCancel reply