Call me Russ L

You’re Riding For A Fall. Yeah, you.

Posted in Music by Russ L on 7 January, 2006

Originally posted on 25/11/4.

…So there I was, going to a reggae/soundsystem bash without any weed. What an absolutely ludicrous situation to be in. To make matters worse, the bar didn’t sell Red Stripe, and so I’m feeling about as un-Jamaican as it’s possible for me to feel (which isn’t very un-Jamaican at all, really. I’m a white male in the first half of my twenty-somethings – we all think we’re from Yard. You know that, I know that, let’s draw a veil over it and carry on).

It was at The Custard Factory, anyway, doing the ‘drain the lake, and put a canopy over the top and a stage at one end’ thing they do for events like this. I arrived to find the Jam Jah sound finishing their set. Being uncool, the only other time I’ve been in the presence of a soundsystem live was when I saw the Different Drummer sound at the Lee Scratch Perry gig at the very same place. I love the atmosphere they create – more than just a disco, more than a party –like some kind of big communal bless-up. Or somesuch. I’m going to have to learn to be cooler so I can encounter them more often.

DJ Derek was up next (‘Have No Fear, The Old Man Is Here’), a sixty-odd year old white man in a sensible jumper rinsing the roots tunes. Really, can you imagine anything cooler? I can’t. When you have tales to tell about Daddy G from Massive Attack sitting outside the pub you used to play because he wasn’t old enough to get in, you know you deserve every ounce of respect-to-the-veteran that people can possibly give you.

I wondered back into the Medicine Bar to get another drink at one point, and realised that the drums I could hear from the other room were live. Popping in to have a look, I remembered that the flyer also promised a ten piece hip-hop/funk group called the Munchbreak Collective. Remember those yoghurts, The Munch Bunch? The ones with the legs on the pots, and each flavour was different character. They were great. I don’t know if they still make them. I don’t recall how many characters/flavours of Munch Bunch there were, but there were probably less than Munchbreak Collective, as there were ten of them. Initially this meant that there were more people on stage than watching. The room steadily got a bit busier (presumably through people discovering it the same way I did), but that didn’t seem to make much difference either way to the band, putting loads of effort in throughout. They had some great songs, too, and so we should all be keeping an eye out for them in the future.

Moving back to the main marquee (type thing), it was time for Cool As Candy Horace Andy. Nearly. It was eventually about quarter to eleven when he took the stage. Oh, my tired old bones.

I do really hate generalisations about styles of music (well, generalisations in general, and I’m only too aware that was one), and there are a few specific facets of that behaviour that I’m going to need to have a bit of a rant about soon (it’ll appear here, or maybe somewhere else), but nonetheless I’m going to lay one on you now – as long as the band play more or less in time with each other (and as long as it sounds halfway authentic, I’m not talking about a 10cc covers band doing ‘Dreadlock Holiday’) then you simply can’t go wrong with live reggae. The only times I ever get the urge to dance are when completely blasted or when in the presence of live reggae. In this instance the band were very much spot on in time with each other, absolutely authentic, and laying down a massive lively groove for Horace’s sweet, sugary vocals to glide over. And I was also completely blasted.

I only really know bits and bobs of Horace Andy so I can’t give you many song titles or suchlike; he played loads of songs that you were singing along with by the end, and – yes – dancing to. We did have to suffer an age-long ‘introduce the band members and let them each have a go at a solo’ bit (I hate that), although asking ‘Please will you play for the massive, please’ is at least a polite way to go about it, and that was pretty much the only downer.

After going off and coming back for an encore (including ‘Skylarking’ – yay!), your man was still going strong at ten to one in the morning. As ecstatically enjoying it as I was, I had to call it a night at that point and go on my merry way home.

– Russ L



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