DREADZONE + SLIPSTREEM WORLDWIDE BEATS – CONCORDE 2 23.03.19
It’s a well known fact that Dreadzone are always dependable in giving punters a fab night out when they come to Brighton.
Tonight, the Concorde 2 on Brighton seafront was once again rockin’ to the uplifting sounds of Britain’s premier electronic reggae act – Dreadzone. I have witnessed their set several times now and on every occasion the band have had the audience enthralled. If you wish to have a night out where you can jump around and be yourself to some modern British reggae sounds, then you really do not need to look any further than these guys. It’s no wonder that they have performed their pleasant mix of dub, reggae, ska, electronic rock and trip hop on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury, they are a festival organisers dream, as they certainly put out the right vibes!
They were in Brighton as part of their 19 date spring tour of the UK and they have been continually on the case since their formation in 1993. They are one of the most energetic, exciting and powerful live bands to emerge from the post-rave scene. They have steadily been releasing albums and progressively bettering, refining and perfecting their own unique and inimitable take on dub since their inception. Still going strong after 26 years in the game they have also long been and still are, one of the best live bands around.
The current Dreadzone lineup is now settled as the quintet comprising of drummer and founding member Greg Dread, MC Spee (vocals), Earl 16 (vocals), Leo Williams (bass), and Bazil (samples and technology).
The band members sure do have a decent pedigree as Greg Dread is none other than Greg Roberts who was a founding member of Big Audio Dynamite (B.A.D), along with former Clash member Mick Jones, the Rebel Dread film director Don Letts, Dan Donovan and Dreadzone’s bassist Leo ‘E-Zee Kill’ Williams.
Jamaican bass guitarist Leo Williams was in an outfit called Basement 5, prior to being in Dreadzone. I can fondly remember hearing their debut single from 1980 called ‘Silicon Chip’ being played several times on the John Peel show. At some stage Don Letts was also in the band and they performed with John Lydon’s Public Image Limited and Ian Dury & The Blockheads. Basement 5’s drummer was a guy called Richard Dudanski and he had previously been in The 101ers, who’s vocalist was none other than The Clash’s Joe Strummer.
Dreadzone’s vocalist Earl 16 is Earl John Daley and he has been with the band since 1995 and has worked and recorded with the royalty of the reggae world including likes of Mikey Dread (as did The Clash), Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, Boris Gardiner and Sugar Minott.
Vocalist MC Spee, who was known in another life prior to Dreadzone as Spencer Graham, joined Dreadzone in 2000, and I for one can’t imagine the band having ever existed without him for their first seven years. He has incredible energy and stage presence and for me personally is one of the very best ever showmen that I have had the fortune to have witnessed live. And boy I’ve seen a great many of them Bowie, Gahan, Bono, Mercury, Marley and so on.
Cementing the lineup is relatively new-boy James ‘Bazil’ Bainbridge who has been bringing his wizardry to the outfit since 2012. The band used to have a guitarist, Chris Compton, but he has now left the fold, and it seemed a tad strange watching the band tonight on the Concorde 2 stage, where I had seen him standing on the right on previous performances.
The Concorde 2 punters were treated to a 90 minute set comprising of 15 tracks, with a third of them (‘Rootsman’, ‘Mountain’, ‘Battle’, ‘16 Hole’ and the antithetic ‘Music Army’) being culled from their recent terrific more dub-style UK Top 40 album ‘Dread Times’ platter, that incidentally saw the band reunited with the mighty Don Letts. This was rather fortunate for me as this is in fact my equal favourite Dreadzone album.
My other favourite Dreadzone album being the 1995 UK Top 40 album ‘Second Light’, which tonight was also well represented this evening, with four cuts, those being the opener ‘Life Love And Unity’, ‘Zion Youth’, the Top 20 UK chart hit single ‘Little Britain’ and my fave track ‘Captain Dread’ – Ahoy!
On a sad note, I was reminded of our recently departed music maker Keith Flint from The Prodigy during this evenings set, as Dreadzone performed ‘Iron Shirt’ from their 2005 ‘Once Upon A Time’ album, which contains a sample made famous by The Prodigy in their 1992 hit ‘Out Of Space’. The original song that these samples comes from is actually Max Romeo’s ‘Chase The Devil’.
Dreadzone love Brighton and the Concorde 2 crowd as they always get a warm reception and it also holds a special memory for the band, as on 24th February 2017 literally one hour before their Concorde 2 show was due to start, Dreadzone posted on their Facebook page. “Dread Times has entered the UK Top 40 Official Album Charts at Number 39. Thank you so much to everyone who was involved in making this happen and to everyone who has supported us and bought a copy of the album. This is our first Top 40 album in over 20 years!”
Thankfully I was stationed right at the front and I could see that the atmosphere tonight was one of love as the fans waved their hands in the air and from side to side at the request of the dynamic MC Spee. He regularly had the banter with the crowd using his varying vocal tones along with his expressive movements, with the other four band members being content in simply letting MC Spee just do his thing as they just got on with it.
Well that was it for another year. Another fab night out and the sweat-soaked crowd headed off to the merch stand to purchase some keepsakes of such an extraordinary evening. Yet again, it’s hats off to the Concorde 2 for putting on such an excellent event.
Dreadzone’s setlist reads:
‘Life Love And Unity’ (found on 1995 ‘Second Light’ album)
‘Rise Up’ (found on 2013 ‘Escapades’ album)
‘Rootsman’ (found on 2017 ‘Dread Times’ album)
‘Mountain’ (found on 2017 ‘Dread Times’ album)
‘Different Planets’ (found on 2001 ‘Sounds’ album)
‘Walk Tall’ (found on 2010 ‘Eye On The Horizon’ album)
‘Battle’ (found on 2017 ‘Dread Times’ album)
‘American Dread’ (found on 2010 ‘Eye On The Horizon’ album)
‘16 Hole’ (found on 2017 ‘Dread Times’ album)
‘Digital Mastermind’ (found on 2001 ‘Sound’ album)
‘Iron Shirt’ (found on 2005 ‘Once Upon A Time’ album)
‘Zion Youth’ (found on 1995 ‘Second Light’ album)
‘Little Britain’ (found on 1995 ‘Second Light’ album)
‘Music Army’ (found on 2017 ‘Dread Times’ album)
‘Captain Dread’ (found on 1995 ‘Second Light’ album)
A mention should also go out to DJ Mark Johnson of Radio Reverb fame as his Slipstreem Worldwide Beats support set certainly got the punters in the right frame of mind as he spun the discs for an hour or so prior to Dreadzone hitting the stage.
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