Review: Chronixx & David Rodigan in London, UK 2014
08/13/2014 by Angus Taylor
Electric Brixton in London, UK - August 10th 2014
4 days in advance tickets for Chronixx and David Rodigan at Electric Brixton sold out. This might not seem like news to international readers - Chronixx and Rodigan right? - but London reggae gigs rarely sell out. People tend to turn up on the night. Before doors even opened a gargantuan queue was snaking down the hill – as far as Acre Lane. Again, unusual for a London reggae show.
The preliminary selectors did not play a single Chronixx tune. Instead they spun what a London crowd wanted – the hits. Hits by people often beginning with B: Beres, Buju, Bob (as well as S for Sizzla, V for Vegas and C for Cure). Hits you can sing along to. From 7pm Allan Brando and DJ Jamrock enlivened the room with the above. At 7.45pm Rootikal’s Dave Hill, Faso and mc Oxman eschewed their usual deep selection for more of the same (their sole misfire a dubstep version of Marlon Asher’s Ganja Farmer that sounded like the original on the wrong speed).
“I have to tell you - you are the chosen ones” said Rodigan an hour later, the lights gleaming on his pate. Ever the master, he had everything: big person music, roots, dancehall – only steering clear of the latest contemporary sounds (the average attendee’s age looked about 30). He too stuck to the hits – but then, many of his cuts were specials. By now all ticketholders were inside. His Ram Jam event RamJammed. Many were lighting up. Smoke alarms going off. Sweat dripping from the walls.
“I first played this in the 80s when this was the Fridge” he recalled, referring to the venue’s former club incarnation, dropping Barrington Levy’s Too Experienced. He even managed a forward for some dubstep – a remix of Dawn Penn’s No No No.
While the 1800 capacity Electric has superior sound to the larger Academy the sight lines when packed are poor. Fortunately Chronixx is a little taller than Rodigan – so the top of his head could be seen from the back. As Zinc Fence band recreated Al Campbell’s Jammin for Alpha & Omega Chronixx arrived to a cathartic roar, in white shirt, shades and huge red gold and green tam. Vision was further obscured by all phones going in the air (presumably to watch the concert on the tube home).
In Germany the previous weekend the opening half of Chronixx’ set lacked energy - as if the sheer amount of touring was wearing he and Zinc Fence out. But you cannot underestimate the power of an audience who understand every lyric and nuance of what you are saying and will sing it back in its entirety.
The performance was divided roughly into three sections. The first dealt in ballads and love songs such as Access Granted and Smile Jamaica. “That was part one of a three part program” explained the worldly-wise 21 year old singer-deejay-whatever-you-want after 20 minutes “We’ve been told a lot of our history by people outside the story. We have to rewrite history”.
This was the second act: concerning roots and culture and the productions of one Winta James. The reaction was visceral to the “Thiefing Queen of England” line during Capture Land. Here Comes Trouble was delivered Jimmy Fallon Show style - in tandem with Jesse Royal’s and Jah9’s cuts on the rhythm. Of course, nothing compares to a live special guest: as evidenced when Protoje bounded on for Who Knows (although his mic levels were not loud enough until he had to go).
No matter. The final – most ecstatic - section of the night dealt in righteous dancehall like Spirulina, Warrior and Odd Ras. Despite being so crowded, the vibe wasn’t tense. Strangers caught each other’s eyes and smiled in recognition. “Thank you for being patient and enjoying the music regardless of the heat” said Chronixx. “London - history was made” was Rodigan’s take before the cauldron dispersed.
Many of us too young to remember have heard of the days when London reggae shows were roadblocked and artists needed police escorts. Tonight gave a fleeting taste of those times.
PHOTO BY SHRIK KOTECHA
WATCH PROTOJE JOINING CHRONIXX ON WHO KNOWS: