Tarrus Riley usually plays in Europe every year and it’s a sold out crowd here in London tonight to see this show. As the venue fills up, we’re entertained by BBC 1Xtra Radio DJ Robbo Ranx, who plays a good selection of Reggae tunes. The first live act of the evening comes from rising Jamaican singer Randy Valentine, who gives a good performance showcasing his brand of dancehall and goes down well with the enthusiastic crowd.
Next up is Alaine, a former investment banker turned Reggae songstress, who performs a selection of the songs she’s been making since moving back to Jamaica from New York. They’re uptempo tunes that highlight her strong voice and she looks to be enjoying her performance as she tells us how happy she is to be supporting Tarrus Riley on this tour. A good warm up act for the main event.
Here to showcase his new album, Tarrus Riley and the “Love Situation” tour have finally touched down in London. The album was put together with help from veteran Jamaican saxophonist Dean Fraser, who played on many of Dennis Brown’s songs amongst others, and he’s here as part of the line up tonight. The rest of the band consists of drums, bass, lead and rhythm guitar, keyboards and two backing singers.
Tarrus Riley’s work has always showcased conscious positivity and tales of love, and the latest album (his fifth) is an affectionate nod to the Rocksteady era of Jamaican music. He proceeds to take us through a great selection of his songs, the tight but fluid playing of the Blak Soil band serving as a perfect backdrop to his soulful vocals. Dean Fraser is also a great live addition to the band as he doubles up on background vocals as well as adding melodic bursts on his saxophone which he plays with real feeling.
One of Tarrus Riley’s best songs “She’s Royal”, from his 2006 album “Parables”, draws a massive response as soon as the intro comes in but there were lots of other great highlights throughout his well executed show, including exceptional performances of “To The Limit” and “Love Situation”, the title track of the new album.
Tarrus’ father Jimmy Riley has been releasing records since the mid-Sixties and joins his son onstage for a couple of tunes to a big reception from the ecstatic crowd. Alaine also returns to do a song with him and their voices blend perfectly as a sort of Reggae version of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. Other stand out songs in his set were “1, 2, 3 I Love You”, “Sorry Is A Sorry Word”, and “Gimme Likkle One Drop”, my personal favourite which features a great intro and perfect, uplifting vocals.
Great to see such an outstanding Reggae show from one of Jamaica’s finest artists. One of the gigs of the year so far.