Support comes from Johnson & The Believers, a four piece Ska/Indie band from Plymouth who have relocated to Brighton. They energetically perform their own songs and also include a cover version of The Specials’ “You’re wondering now”. A good opening set.
The Lee Thompson Ska Orchestra previously unveiled their set at Brighton landmark pub The Prince Albert a couple of years ago and I wrote about it here. They’ve now upgraded to The Concorde as part of their tour to promote their album “The benevolence of Sister Mary Ignatius” (named after the nun who founded the famous Alpha Boys School, responsible for producing some of Jamaica’s finest musicians).
The album was co-produced by Brighton resident Prince Fatty at his famous Ironworks studio and is a joyful run through of some of Lee Thompson’s favourite Ska tunes. They start with the Baba Brooks classic “Guns Fever”, which is also the first track on the album and it’s a fast, frenetic Ska workout sure to get any party started.
The band is made up of drums, bass (Mark Bedford of Madness), trombone, trumpet, soprano sax, baritone sax, lead guitar, Hammond organ, piano, Darren Fordham on vocals/percussion with Lee Thompson on tenor sax and vocals. Brighton resident and Madness guitarist Chris Foreman is also in the crowd.
They play everything on the album, there’s a great skank-along take on the reggae classic “Ali Baba” with Lee making a sterling effort to replicate the John Holt vocal, ably supported by Darren on back ups. Their version of “Fu Manchu”, the single off the album, is also a highlight but with Lee on vocals instead of UK reggae stalwart Bitty McClean who voices this on the album. Another highlight is their great Rocksteady version of the Allman Brothers Southern Rock hit from 1970 “Midnight Rider”.
Throughout the set various members get to solo their respective instruments and for all the joking about and schoolboy witticisms on stage, these guys can really play. Basically it’s a hugely danceable set from a great band and they encore with a rowdy and energetic version of “Dog War” my favourite ever Toots & The Maytals song.
Here’s their first tune. What a way to start a show.