Support comes from Hollie Cook, who describes her sound as “tropical pop” and it’s an apt title for her brand of Roots Reggae infused with her delicate vocals. She’s playing a selection of songs from her album “Twice” and the set is a smooth, dance friendly confection, no surprise as the music is produced by Brighton’s own Prince Fatty. The tunes are head nodders rather than all out jump around tunes but it’s good music to mellow out to. Always worth checking out.
Protoje is steeped in a musical tradition, with his father playing calypso and his mother (and manager) Lorna Bennett, the veteran Reggae singer best known for the 1972 hit “Breakfast In Bed”. He’s here tonight on the first date of his UK tour alongside his Indiggnation band, made up of drums, bass, rhythm guitar, lead guitar, keyboards and two backing singers. His set is a hugely enjoyable mix of his previous album “The Eight Year Affair” and his latest album “Ancient Future”.
Like his friend and contemporary Chronixx, Oje “Protoje” Ken Ollivierre has managed to capture the history and essence of Jamaican music from Ska to Rocksteady to Roots Reggae whilst giving the music a thoroughly 21st Century update, alongside artists like Tarrus Riley, Jah 9, the Raging Fyah band, Iba Mahr, Kabarka Pyramid and Jesse Royal they are all contributing to the renaissance of the Roots sound. It’s a sound that certainly goes down well in Brighton tonight, with a very receptive crowd who seem to know most of the songs played tonight.
Protoje delivers a polished and energetic show, with the very versatile band keeping the packed venue dancing with this brilliant selection of Roots Reggae songs. The band are on form, with some great solos from the lead guitarist and dynamic backing vocals and dance moves from the two female backing singers. It’s a hugely enjoyable set particularly his version of the Prince Buster classic “Answer To Your Name”, an up tempo Ska number that tells the tale of a man following a girl to England in 1971. Throughout the show he’s chatty to the crowd and drops great lyrical snippets from Buju Banton, Jah 9 and Jesse Royal in amongst his own songs. “Hail Rastafari” also stands out, an uplifting, non-preachy song about how his religion gives him peace, spiritual comfort and keeps him counting blessings.
He ends with a nice combination of “Who Knows” and “Kingston Be Wise”, a great interpretation of the Ini Kamoze classic “England Be Nice” from the 1984 album “Statement”. Inspiring, entertaining and uplifting, all that Roots Reggae should be.