This is a bit of a strange one as Neol Davis has decided to return with his version of The Selecter minus Pauline Black and with an all female three piece brass section. Also, on Sat 13th November 2010 in London, Pauline Black is due to play the whole of The Selecter’s debut album “Too much pressure” to celebrate their 30th anniversary alongside original frontman Arthur “Gaps” Hendrickson. So we’ve currently got two versions of The Selecter both containing original members.
Support comes from Dansu, a tight four piece whose blistering riffs and rock solid drumming are the perfect compliment to Bridgette Amofah’s soaring and powerful voice. Vocally, she reminds me of Skin from Skunk Anansie, no bad thing at all. Their cover version of the Leadbelly classic “Black Betty” being a great vehicle for her impressive vocal range. She’s also a member of klezmer inspired noisenicks Oi Va Voi, whose “Travelling The Face Of The Globe” album is well worth a listen. A good support act who will hopefully go on to do even bigger things very soon.
Neol Davis’ Selecter comprises drums, congas, three trombones, hammond organ, bass, lead and rhythm guitar. John Gibbons is the vocalist and he puts his own distinct spin on the classic songs that we’ve got so used to hearing sung by Pauline Black. I suppose that’s the inevitable way to go because you wouldn’t want a female soundalike trying to replace her distinctive voice.
They launch straight into “Three Minute Hero” and it immediately gets the ninety or so people here moving. This is to be a mixture of old and new songs, and a new one “Haunted” is a slow number that would not have been out of place on their second album “Celebrate The Bullet”. They’re a great live band and it’s obvious Neol Davis has taken his time in assembling just the musicians he wanted to play these songs live. “Missing Words”, “Too Much Pressure” and “On My Radio” still sound great today and it’s good to hear familiar songs but sung by someone you’ve never heard sing before. It sort of makes them sound fresh but doesn’t tamper with the dynamic of the original tune.
The new songs are mid to fast tempo ska and are as good to dance to as the classic Selecter songs, so even though the new ones are interspersed with the old faves, the energy of the gig never dips. “Return Of The Selecter” is a trombone led ska instrumental in the same vein as the great instrumental “The Selecter” that was of course the classic double A-side with “Gangsters” by The Specials that launched the Two Tone label in 1979. Neol Davis says it only took him thirty years to write this follow up and clearly enjoys playing scratchy ska licks over the shuffling rhythm.
They encore with their other great instrumental “James Bond” as well as another new one and that’s the comeback gig neatly finished with. It’s a shame Neol Davis and Pauline Black are both keeping The Selecter name going separately, but they must have their own personal reasons for doing so and that’s fair enough. At least we still get to hear the classic songs played live.
Two Selecter websites so take your pick:
Neol Davis uses http://www.theselecter.com
Pauline Black uses http://www.theselecter.net