Concorde 2, 19 August 2010, with support from Samsara
Well folks, summer is nearly over. The tans are fading and the dodgy swimming trunks will soon be shoved to the back of the drawer, only to be dragged out next year and instantly slung out in self-disgust. All is not lost though. The nights are bright and the barbecues are still warm. Why not squeeze every last drop out of the great British summertime while you still can?
One crucial ingredient (for most sun worshippers at least) is reggae; the soundtrack to any right-thinking individual’s solstice shenanigans. What better way to spend an evening than with a giant sound system, a can of Red Stripe and some of the best reggae bands around to help skank your troubles away.
Before tonight’s main event we are offered a set from one of Brighton’s top reggae acts, Samsara. When the sextuplet first saunter onstage, the floor of Concorde 2 is bare to say the least. It doesn’t take long though for the eager hoards to filter through to the main room, drawn to the bass line like moths to a streetlight.
Frontman J. Levitsky’s vocals are drenched in dub delay and he works the crowd well, flailing his dreadlocks as he bounces to the upbeat. Guitarist Andy Aruldoss adds depth, warmth and atmosphere whilst the brass section punch through with latin flavoured bursts of energy. By the time they peak they’re playing to a full house and are treated to rapturous applause before bowing out gracefully to welcome tonight’s headliners.
It was only last year that we were graced with the presence of reggae legends The Wailers at Coalition. Back then they performed a very special one off performance of the “Exodus” album in its entirety, an album which some might call the pinnacle of Mr Marley’s brief but resounding career. It’s fair to say then that they have their work cut out tonight. Or do they?
From the outset, the core members’ performance is so in the pocket that they couldn’t fail to get the crowd moving. Bassist, Aston “Family Man” Barrett is the only original member left in the group, and it seems his iconic grooves haven’t tarnished with age. He is still the same picture of cool now as he was back in the seventies. Jamaican colours, shades indoors and not one – but two giant bass amps for extra ribcage rattling low end. Couple that with spectacular beat-keeping from the drummer, and you cannot help but dance. The lead vocals are shared between two performers, both of whom do well to replicate the husky Kingston stylings of their legendary predecessor.
But what really lets the group down is the guitarist, whose David Gilmore-like tone is way off the mark. Bob Marley’s records are renowned for their vinyl warmth, so what place then do crystal clear, not to mention self-indulgent guitar solos have here? The answer is none. The keyboard player was almost as shocking. The odd melodic fluff-up could be shrugged off and ignored. But the cheap Casio sound bites were detrimental to an otherwise enjoyable show.
The highlight was most definitely the acoustic encore of Marley’s classic “Redemption Song”, which got everyone in the building singing along in unison; a genuinely poignant moment.
What did you think of the gig?
Liam: “I thought it was well good. Jammin’ was sick!”
Helen: “It was good fun, it was my first reggae gig and I thought they were excellent!”
Matt: “They were better than I thought they’d be actually. I had high expectations, and they exceeded them hugely.”
Lucy: “I thought it really good. Did a bit of dancing. It was great fun!”
Donald: “I had a great time but I was just wondering, where’s Bob?”
Words by James Watts
Photography by Keith Trigwell