Get Out Gigging

I saw a band…here’s what I think…



Roland Gift, Concorde 2, Brighton. Thurs 14th Dec, 2017

The venue isn’t full but there’s a vocal and enthusiastic crowd here to see Roland Gift and his band, comprising drummer Dave Barbarossa (Adam And The Ants and Bow, Wow, Wow), lead guitarist Dave Randall, a keyboard player and two identically dressed backing singers.

Roland Gift 1It’s a great set, comprising new and old material but it’s not surprising that his Fine Young Cannibals material gets the greatest response. They kick off with “Suspicious Minds”, Gift’s distinctive voice still sounding clear, smooth and strong. The band gel well together, particularly on a Reggae version of “Ever Fallen In Love” by Buzzcocks and other classic songs like “Johnny Come Home” and “Good Thing” get the audience singing along word for word.

Roland Gift and the band take a short interval to hold a meat raffle, a great tradition in pubs and working men’s clubs, one lucky punter winning a huge slab of beef and a chicken while a runner up gets a bag of potatoes.

Other song highlights are “She Drives Me Crazy” and “Not The Man I Used To Be” Roland Gift 2guitarist Dave Randall switching to acoustic guitar for this song. Former guitarist with Faithless, Randall has also written a book about the political power of music, his playing tonight perfectly complimenting Barbarossa’s assured and funky drum licks.

Hearing these songs again this gig is a great reminder of just how good the Fine Young Cannibals were. It’s good to see Roland Gift singing live again, he’s clearly enjoying himself on stage and with such a good band backing him up he’ll hopefully be around for a a good while longer.



The Jalapeno Bop, The Old Market, Brighton. Sat 9th Dec, 2017

This is the first in a series of shows featuring DJ’s and artists from Jalapeno Records. Brighton is a good place to put on an event like this as it has a long standing tradition of hosting good Funk and Soul events. Soul Casserole are a case in point, a couple of Brighton DJ’s who have been playing various venues in Brighton for several years now. Their mix of classic songs and Rephlex remixes of songs by well known artists like Stevie Wonder gets the crowd dancing as the venue slowly fills up.

First of the live acts is Gizelle Smith backed by a band comprising drums, bass, guitar and percussion. It’s sweet Soul music mostly featuring songs from her “Ruthless Day” album from which“Sweet Memories” is the single. Fine to listen to during the moment but forgettable once the set is finished.

After a short break Smoove and Turrell take to the stage to deliver their brand of soulful dance music cheekily termed “Northern Funk”. This Newcastle band often play in London but don’t come to the South Coast much, so it’s good to see them here tonight.

SmooveLive, the band is made up of drums, bass, lead guitar and keyboards with Smoove playing
congas and other percussive instruments. The band play an up-tempo danceable set, the keyboard player frequently standing on top of the keyboards to gee up the crowd as he plays huge riffs reminiscent of Clint Boon Madchester-era Inspiral Carpets. John Turrell has a strong soul shouter’s voice, giving an assured performance as the whole band keep the crowd moving with their assured playing, they even manage to attract a couple of women onto the stage to dance along.

TurrellHalfway through the set they bring on Izo Fitzroy, another Jalapeno artist, to duet with John Turrell on a slower Soul number. There’s a small cheer of recognition as they launch into “Beggarman’s Disco” taken from their debut 2009 album “Antique Soul”. Their ode to keeping going through these austere, credit cunch times is a feelgood message that is still as relevant as ever. They encore with “Could’ve Been A Lady”, taken from their current album “Crown Posada” and that’s the end of their lively set.

The evening ends with Bristolian duo The Allergies (DJ Moneyshot & Rackabeat) playing a DJ set. They’ve got their current album “Pushing On” out at the moment so it’s a shame they weren’t doing a live set but all in all a good evening of entertainment from Jalapeno records.


Jalapeno Records

Smoove And Turrell

Rag ‘n’ Bone Man, The Brighton Centre, Brighton. Tues 28th Nov, 2017

Support on the “Overproof Tour” comes from Rationale and Josh Barry, two upcoming UK R’n’B artists who do a decent job of warming up the crowd in the cavernous Brighton Centre. Rory Graham aka Rag ‘n’ Bone Man has had a successful year of touring, selling records and winning awards. He’s also recently become a father so I guess will be taking some well deserved time off when this current tour finishes.

His band consists of drums, bass, lead guitar, keyboards, trumpet, trombone as well as a female backing singer, and they kick things off with a spirited version of the song “Wolves“. A lot of the set is made up of songs from his debut “Human” album (not to be confused with the “Humanz” album by the Gorillaz on which Rory also appears).

From the off he has the attention of the crowd, his vocals ranging from powerful baritone to the rap delivery that goes back to the days of the Brighton based Hip Hop collective Rum Committee from which he emerged. (The impressive stage backdrop made up of hundreds of hand drawn faces has been created by fellow Rum Committee member Captain Bukioe aka Stewart Chromik founder of the London Mural Company).

There’s a brief break in the set when the band plays one short instrumental tune when Rory leaves the stage. When he returns he launches into a version of one of his hit songs “Skin” accompanied only by piano. It’s a great way to showcase his voice and goes down really well.

Throughout the set, Rory says how great it is to be playing such a large venue after years of playing various Brighton pubs and dedicates the entire set to a girl he met backstage who has various health issues. He also takes time to mention that he’s a patron for Audio Active, the Brighton based organisation that provides music based creative experiences for young people.

As his craft has always emphasised playing live we get to hear “Run With The Beast”, a brand new uptempo song that is yet to be recorded. Of course it’s established songs like “Human” that really connects with the crowd but the whole show is a well presented spectacle that should ensure Rag ‘n’ Bone man should be around making great music for a good while to come.


Rag ‘n’ Bone Man

London Mural Company

Audio Active

Macka B, Komedia, Brighton. Mon 27th Nov, 2017

Support comes from Brighton Dub reggae stalwarts The Resonators, who have picked up a lot of support for their music this year, in particular from David Rodigan who has been playing songs from their new album “Imaginary People” on his BBC 1Xtra show. With dual vocalists Kassia Zermon and Faye Houston they get their home town crowd going with their powerful vocals backed by the seven musicians who make up the band.

Macka B has been creating great Reggae records since the Eighties but has enjoyed a resurgence this year, particularly online with his “Medical Mondays” and “Wha’ Me Eat Wednesdays” segments on YouTube.

He’s got a new album “Health Is Wealth”, a celebration of his Rastafarian and vegan lifestyle, and the bulk of his set is made up of songs from this and his previous album “Never Played A 45” .

His Roots Ragga Band (comprised of drums, bass, lead guitar and keyboards) are a tight versatile unit capable of backing Macka B through a highly danceable set that ranges from slow Roots numbers through to fast, double time Dancehall.

Similar to the set we saw when he played at the Jazz Cafe in London last year, so you can check that review for an idea of what the gig was like. Definitely an artist who’s always worth going to see.


Macka B

The Resonators

Jacob Collier, The Old Market, Brighton. Fri 24th Nov, 2017

Twenty-three year old Jacob Collier is known for the split screen YouTube video of him playing a variety of instruments and layering his voice multiple times to create a symphonic and playful jazzy interpretation of the Stevie Wonder song “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing”. He subsequently signed to the management company owned by Quincy Jones and has been touring his debut album “In My Room”.

There’s no support act at The Old Market tonight and he launches straight into the set by playing that Stevie Wonder song. On stage is a variety of keyboards, a drum kit, melodica, double bass, guitars, various percussive instruments and a piano and Collier bounds from one end of the stage to the other, playing a few bars of each instrument then looping them up until the multi-layered sound fills the entire room.

In between songs, he tells us how much he loves it in Brighton in a gushing and polite manner to enthusiastic claps and cheers from the busy venue. As well as some of his own songs, he plays covers such as “In My Room” by the Beach Boys and “You And I”, again by Stevie Wonder. The set features a lot of re-harmonised vocals, presented in Classical, Gospel, A cappella, Jazz and Soul styles, with Collier proving himself adept at all the genres he takes on.

It’s not so much a set you can dance to but it’s entertaining enough watching him piece everything together in front of your eyes. Even though his set is an exercise in virtuosity, it’s downplayed by the exuberance of his performance which keeps the show entertaining. It’s interesting that he’s collaborated with Snarky Puppy as their virtuosity can veer into the sort of noodly territory that puts people off Jazz but he manages to keep his set engaging.

A self-assured singer, composer and producer it should be interesting to see how his music develops.


Jacob Collier

Tru Thoughts 18th Birthday, Brighton Dome, Brighton. Weds 18th Oct, 2017

In my opinion the best Indie label to come out of Brighton, Tru Thoughts are celebrating 18 years of signing eclectic and innovative artists to their now iconic label. Tonight in the Brighton Dome there’s a mixture of old and new acts, performing both on stage and in the foyer as the audience enters the building, so there’s plenty of music to be heard.

The main room sees Will Holland aka Quantic play a mix of Latin-tinged dance tunes before Alice Russell and her and take to the stage. There’s certainly a hint of her previous training as a Gospel singer in the set, evident on songs like “Heartbreaker” and she’s got a male backing singer who perfectly complements her vocals with harmonies. Quantic joins her on guitar for the song “I’d Cry” and the backing singer plays violin as Alice shows here impressive vocal range.

The Hot 8 Brass Band join her at the end of the set for her cover version of The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” and this gets the crowd clapping and singing along. A good set if a little bit over long as by the time roadies had set up for the Hot 8 it was clear they would be playing a shorter set than usual.

The get a huge reception when they finally take the stage, possibly the flag ship act on the Tru Thoughts label they’re the ideal party band, able to play venues, festivals or just march in the street outside and get everyone grooving to their New Orleans take on Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing” and the general call and response up tempo nature of their set.

A good night from a great label, I’m glad Tru Thoughts have been bringing people great music for 18 years, here’s hoping head honchos Rob Luis and Paul Jonas keep going for a long time to come.


Tru Thoughts

Benjamin Zephaniah & The Revolutionary Minds, Jazz Cafe, London. Sat 14th Oct, 2017

Support comes from Unit 31, a band who record in their own right alongside Amy True Amy Truewho is part of Benjamin Zephaniah’s Revolutionary Minds band. They’re a funk and soul band comprising drums, bass, keyboards and lead guitar and their short instrumental set is a great opener for the main event.

Benjamin Zephaniah has been writing and performing poetry for several years. He has also written books, practices martial arts and can be seen acting in the BBC series “Peaky Blinders”. Tonight he’s performing tunes from his new album of dub poetry called “Revolutionary Minds“, produced by The Sea (Toots & The Maytals, Rodney P, Massive Attack, The Wailers, Buju Banton).

ZephaniahHis band is made up of drums, bass and keyboards with Amy True on backing vocals. They’re a tight knit group who back the charismatic Zephaniah on poems dealing with racism, patriarchy, global warming and political and ecomonic corruption. The songs have titles like Earth Liberation Sound, “More Animal Writes”, “Revolutionary Minds” and “What Stephen Lawrence Hass Taught Us” and even though the subject matter is heavy, the songs are presented with humour through a bass heavy filter of danceable music. Zephaniah understands that you have to make the show entertaining especially if you’re going to present such gritty lyricism.

It’s a set full of great danceable songs which are ultimately empowering. Revolution through dub poetry, well worth seeking out.


Amy True

Benjamin Zephaniah

Gaelynn Lea. The Green Door Store, Brighton. Tues 22nd Aug, 2017

Gaelynn Lea is from Duluth, Minnesota a major port city on the shores of Lake Superior. She’s playing a few UK dates and has brought her brand of Celtic Folk to Brighton.

Accompanied by a guitarist, with Gaelynn on vocals and violin, we’re treated to a series of songs ranging from the traditional to her original compositions. She also uses a looping pedal to layer and accentuate her sound and whether playing up-tempo numbers or slower songs, her plaintive vocals blend perfectly with her emotive playing.

There’s plenty of good natured banter between songs and she mentions how muchGaelynn Lea
she likes it in Brighton and touring the UK in general. Particular mention is given to playing some successful dates in Ireland before she launches into a couple of traditional Irish fiddle tunes. She also talks about how much support she gets from her husband before singing “Someday We’ll Linger In The Sun”, explaining that it’s about holding onto love even though it might be a struggle.

As an advocate for the disabled (she was born with a congenital bone disease) she has also given an interesting TED talk about forging an identity in a world that leaves you out. Tonight though, it’s about the music and we got to hear a brilliant musician playing a great selection of songs.


Gaelynn Lea

Horace Andy, Komedia, Brighton. Weds 19th July, 2017

Support comes from Samsara the Brighton collective who, alongside The Resonators, have a decidely South Coast take on Roots Reggae. It’s a mid-tempo skanking set that gently warms the crowd up for the main act.

Horace Andy’s backing band is comprised of a guiarist, keyboard player and Mafia and Fluxy (on bass and drums respectively), brothers who have been performing together since the Seventies and are firmly established as stalwarts of London’s Reggae scene. The band plays a brief instrumental before introducing Horace Andy to the stage. He’s a sprightly 66 years of age and spends the entire set dancing or running from one side of the stage to the other, effortlessly keeping the crowd engaged in an energetic performance that defies his nickname of “Sleepy”.

Horace AndyHis falsetto voice and distinctive vibrato are in good form as he performs a series of songs that range from his 1972 recording “Skylarking” through to his Eighties move into songs like “Dance Hall Style”. Classic songs like “Cuss Cuss”, “Money Money”, “Spying Glass” and “Must Surrender” are played with an enthusiasm and feeling that ensure a rapturous reception from the all ages crowd.

Of course it’s “Hymn Of The Big Wheel” that gets the biggest reception, here transformed into a rootsy song without the drum machines on the Massive Attack original.

A great set that covers only a small section of his extensive back catalogue, it’s great to hear Horace Andy is still in good voice and still has boundless energy when performing.



Mafia & Fluxy

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