Much like the more political side of Hip Hop, the rootsier side of Reggae never really goes away. It’s always been represented by Sound Systems in both the UK and Jamaica as well as by artists like Morgan Heritage who present an alternative to slackness and negativity. In recent years, Roots Reggae has come back even stronger with artists like Tarrus Riley, Jah Bouks, Jah 9, Kabaka Pyramid, Protoje and Chronixx bringing us stories of love, hope, resistance and strength in adversity all while praising Rastafari.
Tonight it’s Chronixx and his ZincFence Redemption band who are here in Brixton to promote the slew of singles he’s been releasing this year as well as his mini album “Dread And Terrible”, which features seven tracks and three dub versions. His profile in the States has also been helped with an appearance on the “Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon” but he’s been a firm favourite in the UK for a while now. The sold out crowd are warmed up by David “Ram Jam” Rodigan who at the age of 63 still enthusiastically bounds around on stage as he plays a selection of unique dubs and classic tunes.
Rodigan then introduces Chronixx and his band, who are made up of a drummer, six-string bass player, two keyboard players and lead guitar. He arrives on stage wearing shades and gets a huge reception from the packed crowd. From there, it’s a master class in how to present a show as we get a selection of all his well known songs faultlessly reproduced by the band and with his rich vocals sounding as clear as on vinyl.
If you’re not familiar with his music, the “Dread and Terrible” album is a good place to start as he ran through most of the songs on this album and from the reaction in the crowd it’s clear that a lot of people know the tunes. So we get to hear an affirmation of his faith on “Rastaman Wheel Out” and “Capture Land”, “Spirulina” a testament to to the benefits of the superfood and his Rasta call to arms “Here Comes Trouble”. “Smile Jamaica”, an ode to his birthplace sung as if he’s speaking about a woman also provokes a big reaction and is already a classic in his self assured repertoire.
As he launches into his huge hit “Who Knows”, there’s a loud cheer when Protoje comes bounding onto the stage to perform the tune with him. A contemporary artist who deals with similar subject matter (his album “The 8 Year Affair” is well worth checking out) Protoje gives a confident performance even though he’s only on for the one song before giving the stage back over to Chronixx. He finishes with “Odd Ras” his rejection of the crass side of Reggae, from pants hanging off backsides to skin bleaching to slack lyrics, and it’s a perfect way to end the set.
Chronixx has all the hallmarks of becoming an artist who will be around for a long time. He already has a great selection of songs which is impressive for someone who is only 22 years old this year and knows how to deliver a great live show.