Wednesday, April 16

The Dangerous Ideas Tour Click for more info

The final day in the Radical Middle Way's fairly ambitious UK tour was held at the Mile End Ecology Centre. I had to be convinced to turn up tonight - although I appreciate the art forms, spoken word and poetry really aren't my thing and I thought I'd just end up being bored at best or patronising at worst, especially seeing how it was all aimed at that Muslim Youth lot.

Even a closer look at the description of the event would have proven me incorrect though: there was more than enough hip-hop, comedy and other stuff to keep even a cynic like me entertained. And as it turned out, the poetry actually wasn't that bad after all - in fact it was one of the many highlights of the show.

R U KID, a finalist in the UK Beatboxing Championship this year opened up the proceedings; he was actually present throughout, providing backing for most of the artists performing. I was amazed that he was just a finalist and some of the things he could do seemed impossible to me.

Akram Hussain, the recently elected Tower Hamlets Young Mayor, said a few words about his role in the community and the importance of bridging across different demographics - be it age, gender or race. To be honest I'm not quite sure I get what his role and responsibilities are above that of a PR nature, but I'm probably underestimating them anyway.

Young Ummah, a rap group of four from Harlesden, then did a set. A clear example of how far Muslim rap is going, it wasn't long before I was bopping my head to their beats. We then had a few minutes with the South African comedian Halal Bilal. Now I'm not a big fan of Muslim comedy: mainly because it's all been done before (and wasn't funny then either). But I'll admit to chuckling more than once with Bilal and it was impressive to see him up there.

Warsan Shire and Sierra Leone's Alim then did their respective performances. The former was very quick - two poems and she was gone. Alim gave us a bit more of his time, transmitting a fairly emotional narrative to us in the audience. I was actually caught by surprise by how powerful his words were as he described a gang shooting.

It was then the turn of what turned out to be my personal favourite act of the evening, Poetic Pilgrimage. I actually fell in love with Muneera Rashida purely after hearing her first poem regarding celebrity; it's good too see how far they've come since 2001. The pair then ripped it up with their more regular hip hop which was pretty awesome too. They were later joined by Mohammed Yahya and Massacre to provide yet more auditory treats.

Rishi Rich and Mumzy served as bonuses to the proceedings; they clearly didn't fit in with the rest of the line up, but it was nice to hear Mumzy do his thing live - he sung Stranger and he really does sing both parts of the track himself. He was followed by Imam Johari Abdul Malik who explained in more literal and less arty terms what the whole point of the evening was.

Although Amir Sulaiman (and his groupies, although I can't really blame him for those) headlined the event, he didn't quite do it for me as much as Poetic Pilgrimage did. That's not to say I didn't underestimate him; he was real, funny and good at sending out the message he had been brought in for and I was ultimately glad to be in his audience. The final ten minute stint with all of the night's performers in one collaboration was just superb.

Fortunately I had been totally wrong about what to expect from tonight. It was entertaining, sure, but more that that I felt that a message, that we each had the power to propagate change, had actually been sent out, a lot of opinions made and attitudes changed and the seeds of further activism planted. I may even be pushed to saying that the Radical Middle Way did a damn good job with this tour - it certainly beat the whole nasheed thing anyway.