GENTLEMAN’S DUB CLUB + KIKO BUN – CHALK, BRIGHTON 11.3.22
We arrived at the Chalk venue in Brighton during a massive downpour and thus entered the establishment in possibly not the right frame of mind. That soon dissipated as we located the bar and our chums and then set up camp resting on the barrier in front of the stage.
The timing this evening was perfect and bang on 7:30pm the tour support artist Kiko Bun took to the stage with an “Oi! Oi!” and away we went…….
We had first witnessed a live set from Kiko when he played in Brighton as part of The Great Escape back in 2016. That night he had a full band with him, but this evening he was going solo, with just a microphone, his Pioneer mixing decks and a glass of red wine to keep him company.
From the very outset, I have to pay homage to the mixed age crowd as everyone was up for it. And when I say “up for it”, I mean REALLY up for it! In fact Kiko was rather taken aback by the love flooding his way during his first number, ‘Bad Boy Tenor’, which he informed us was written here in Brighton with his mate Dan Smith. It is according to Kiko “an authentic blend of Reggae, early Dancehall and Rubadub. Influenced by Jamaican Soundsystem culture”. This tune certainly set the tempo for the whole night and indeed this tune would become a recurring theme of the night as Kiko also performed a drum and bass version to close his set. Plus later still, it earned a reprise during the headliners set.
Kiko informed us that he would be performing a world exclusive of his new tune ‘Miss Burnett’. It was a corker with a heavy bass sound. Strangely, ‘Informer’ by Snow jumped into my head during this tune. This was followed by his 2017 single, ‘Shy Man’, which has the earworm lyrics “I would never get a girl like you, if I was a shy man (shy man)”. This led nicely onto his 2022 ‘Too Dangerous’ single, which Kiko proudly proclaimed was written and recorded in his bedroom studio (at his North West London flat) and that he played all of the instruments on it.
His popular 2015 single, ‘Where I’m From’ was up next. I was a massive fan of this at the time and I recall it coming out on Island Records, but these days Kiko’s material is unleashed on his own Panamah Records imprint.
Tonight’s tempo was certainly cranked up by Kiko’s final two drum and bass numbers – the joint was rockin’. The first had the lyrics “Sweet sweet love” and the final number which concluded at 8:03pm was the reworking of ‘Bad Boy Tenor’.
PA gigs aren’t usually my thang, (although back in the day I used to love Divine), but I must say that this Kiko Bun set was glorious and I hope he makes a swift return to Brighton. That was 33 minutes of my life that I would most certainly love to relive!
Kiki Bun setlist included:
‘Bad Boy Tenor’
‘Where I’m From’
‘Bad Boy Tenor’ (drum & bass version)
After a half hour live performance respite, we were back on track at 8:33pm with the seriously uplifting Gentleman’s Dub Club who were back in the house after nye on two year Covid induced gap. Last time around the band were playing at Chalk during Storm Dennis, but this time around they were playing a storm themselves!
As per the previous Brighton GDC concert, this time was also being promoted by LOUT, those guys certainly never miss a trick in bringing quality acts to our city.
Since their formation in Leeds in early 2006, the now London-based dub collective Gentleman’s Dub Club have made a name for themselves as one of the most respected names in dub/reggae music. With their unique take on dub music, and their prolific output, this has solidified their position as stalwarts of the UK dub/ska/reggae music scene. GDC are festival favourites right across the UK and Europe. They have found themselves regularly playing to crowds of 10,000 or more, from their set opening on the mainstage at Boomtown festival, as well as thrilling the crowds at Glastonbury, Bestival, Rototom, NASS, Latitude to name just a few.
The Gents were returning to Brighton as part of their 12-date ‘Down To Earth’ UK tour, in celebration of their latest album which was released last year.
Back to this evening, and the crowd were seriously primed! There’s something in the air, but it’s not weed like the olden days. It’s electric in Chalk and their sound system as always is as crisp as ever. The band had also brought along their CHAUVET DJ lighting and revolving red emergency globes to add to the atmosphere.
The Gentleman’s Dub Club took to the stage at 8:33pm and performed for 87 minutes. As usual, it’s really impossible not to be warmed by these guys and in particular their slender frontman Jonathan Scratchley and trumpet player Matt Roberts, who both offer us oodles of positivity and broad smiles.
As always, frontman Jonathan, who was sporting a man-bun, ditched his trainer footwear after a single number and he bounced around the stage to the unit’s uplifting sounds. There were no less than two Nord Stage 2’s in the house as well as a Nord Electro 5D keyboard – right up my street! Congas, drums, guitar, bass, trumpet and alto sax completed their sound.
A short way into their 18 track set, the band – dressed in their customary performance garb of white shirts, ties and black trousers – proudly brought on charming vocalist Hollie Cook to assist with performing their recent ‘Honey’ single collaboration. Hollie was most certainly ‘full of the beans’ – a statement which famous snooker player Jimmy White once said directly to me, but that’s another story. Hollie graced the stage and owned it during her sassy performance duet with Jonathan.
It was a nice touch when Jonathan informed the excited crowd that tonight felt like a homecoming gig and that it was special to him. He grew up near Brighton.
The band performed four tunes from their latest 2021 ‘Down To Earth’ album. After their intro, they began in earnest with the title track and then after Hollie vacated the stage, GDC delivered the second album number in the form of ‘Castle In The Sky’, which was rather good indeed. The Caribbean holiday style vibes of ‘Sunshine Revolution’ (which was dedicated to the crowd and was written during lockdown on Zoom with the band all over the country) and a terrific drum and bass version of ‘Sugar Rush’ both followed later on in the set.
It was rather wonderful to hear the decade old timeless classic of ‘Emergency’ back in their set this evening. After which the charismatic Kiko Bun made a welcome return for a trio of tunes, the 2020 ‘Use Me’ single, ‘See You Next Tuesday’ from the 2018 ‘Pound For Pound’ album and segueing straight into Kiko’s own ‘Bad Boy Tenor’ 2020 single.
The audience bounced and danced around to the funkiest guys in town tonight. A highlight of which being ‘High Grade’ which gloriously included a dub and Drum & Bass version, with the band congregating to the rear of the wide stage and thus letting the vibe take everyone away – Pure magic!
The aforementioned ‘Sugar Rush’ (Drum & Bass version) and ‘Fire (Jungle Remix)’ followed. By now everyone was ‘aving it large….’aving it VERY large! You could tell that the musicians were all very emotional about performing on stage for us this evening, having spent two years in Covid quarantine. I had the feeling that for many, this evening was their first concert for many months and they were going to have a party, no matter how rubbish the weather was outside!
Ever the professionals, as the clocks around the country were striking 10pm, the GDC boys concluded their energy filled set by playing the closing bars of ‘Let A Little Love’. It has been a most wonderful experience and certainly re-energised many folk in getting their live concert mojo back!
I’m certain that on 31st December this year, I will be looking fondly back at my Top 10 gigs of the year and it’s a foregone conclusion that tonight’s performance will be in there!
Gentleman’s Dub Club are:
Jonathan Scratchley (vocals)
Toby Davies (bass guitar, keyboards, vocals)
Luke Allwood (keyboards, vocals)
Matt Roberts (trumpet)
Kieren Gallagher (alto sax)
Nick Tyson (guitar)
Joe Price (percussion, samples)
Daniel Deej John (drums)
Doug Hunt (Engineer)
Gentleman’s Dub Club setlist:
‘Down To Earth’ (found on 2021 ‘Down To Earth’ album)
‘Music Is The Girl I Love’ (found on 2015 ‘The Big Smoke’ album)
‘Honey’ with Hollie Cook (found on 2021 ‘Honey’ single)
‘Castle In The Sky’ (found on 2021 ‘Down To Earth’ album)
‘Dancing In The Breeze’ (found on 2017 ‘Dubtopia’ album)
‘Emergency’ (found on 2011 ‘Emergency’ single)
‘Use Me’ with Kiko Bun (found on 2020 ‘Use Me’ single)
‘See You Next Tuesday’ with Kiko Bun (found on 2018 ‘Pound For Pound’ album)
‘Bad Boy Tenor’ with Kiko Bun (found on 2020 Kiko Bun ‘Bad Boy Tenor’ 7” single)
‘Earthquake’ (found on 2015 ‘The Big Smoke’ album)
‘Sunshine Revolution’ (found on 2021 ‘Down To Earth’ album)
‘Midnight Healing’ (found on 2019 ‘Lost In Space’ album)
‘Gridlock’ (found on 2017 ‘Dubtopia’ album)
‘High Grade’ (inc Drum & Bass version) (original found on 2014 10” Ltd Ed White Label single + 2012 ‘Open Your Eyes’ EP)
‘Sugar Rush’ (Drum & Bass version) (original found on 2021 ‘Down To Earth’ album)
‘Fire (Jungle Remix)’ (original found on 2009 ‘Members Only’ EP)
‘Let A Little Love’ (found on 2017 ‘Dubtopia’ album)