It’s hard to believe Marvin Gaye’s seminal album, What’s Going On was released 50 years ago this year and to commemorate the anniversary, we’re pleased to welcome Nu Civilisation Orchestra (NCO) to perform their own homage at Brighton Dome on Saturday 30 October.
A creative exploration of Gaye’s masterpiece, What’s Going On will be conducted by the orchestra’s Musical Director Peter Edwards, with a featured guest on lead vocals and a Brighton-based spoken word artist, performing hit songs such as Mercy Mercy Me, Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler) and the album’s title track. NCO will reflect on current times through the lens of Gaye’s incredible catalogue and the themes that continue to resonate today, from racial discrimination and police violence to environmental decay and the devastating impact of war. Visual projections by Yeast Culture, combined with the 24-piece orchestra’s formidable horns, strings and backing vocalists will bring the heart and soul of Gaye’s music to life.
The ensemble has been brought together by Gary Crosby OBE, Artist Director of the talent development organisation and charity Tomorrow’s Warriors. 2021 also marks the 30th anniversary of Tomorrow’s Warriors and their vision to provide an accessible platform for young musicians from diverse backgrounds.
Gary Crosby commented:
“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 still apply now. It’s going to be a powerful evening of music and we can’t wait to perform at Brighton Dome with the NCO.”
To celebrate five decades since its release, here are five fascinating facts about the album:
- Gaye produced What’s Going On himself, and it was his first album to enter the top 10 charts in the US
- Founder of Motown records, Berry Gordy, initially refused to release Gaye’s single What’s Going On, which later became the centrepiece of the album, because he thought it wasn’t commercial enough. Despite the sentiment of Gaye’s music marking a departure for the label, What’s Going On remains their biggest-ever selling record
- Gaye’s critique of the Vietnam war was influenced by the experiences of his brother, Frankie, who had been stationed as a radio operator during the conflict
- The album was completed in under 30 days, after a bet between Gordy and Gaye that it couldn’t be delivered that quickly
- What’s Going On is frequently voted the best album of all time by music fans and critics alike, most recently topping Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list in 2020
Nu Civilisation Orchestra’s six-date What’s Going On tour is supported by an Arts Council National Lottery: Project Grant.
Tickets cost £27, from the event page or via our Ticket Office.