I love Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon album.  I love reggae, especially with an added dollop of dub.  When the Easy Star All-Stars released Dub Side Of The Moon In 2003, I approached it with a slight sense of trepidation; would it be great or would it be a terrible gimmick?  Fortunately it was the former, managing to retain the atmosphere of the Floyd original while standing up as an authentic piece of reggae/dub in its own right.

Since Dub Side Of The Moon, the All-Stars have repeated the Dub Side formula on albums by Radiohead, Michael Jackson and The Beatles but it was the opportunity to hear Dub Side Of The Moon played in its entirety that was the real draw here tonight.

The seven-piece band limber up themselves and the crowd with a couple of numbers including a Toots & The Maytalls-inspired take on Radiohead’s Let Down featuring vocals from the dapper Ruff Scott and terrific brass work from Jenny Hill on sax and Brian O’Sullivan On trombone.   Keyboard player Avis Rees looks pensive throughout tonight’s gig but we are later informed that this is her first show with the band; she ends her performance visibly relieved and, justifiably, beaming from ear to ear.

The familiar chords of Speak To Me/Breathe ooze smokily out of the PA and we’re off to The Dub Side Of The Moon. On The Run morphs into a drum barrage from Ivan Katz before we settle into a leisurely groove for Time led by Ruff Scott and Kirsty Rock on vocals.  Kirsty emerges as the All-Stars’ secret weapon; her barefooted enthusiasm driving both band and audience forward and her soulful vocal on Great Gig in the Sky is truly outstanding.

Special mention also to Samuel Richards AKA Ras Droppa on bass, locked in tight with Katz’s drums, Katz thoughtfully leaving enough space in his kick drum patterns for Richards’s bass to bubble around in.  Shelton Garner on guitar and vocals keeps the whole thing together with tight rhythm chops and snaky leads, despite a rogue pedal leaving him temporarily mute.

All too soon we’ve skanked through Money and are chilling through the closing sections of Us And Them and Any Colour You Like– beautiful sax from Jenny Hill – then Brain Damage featuring a vocal from trombone man O’Sullivan.  As Eclipse ebbs away I’m left feeling that I would have liked a little more actual dub in my Dub Side Of The Moon but I’m not complaining and neither is anyone else; the band have gone down a storm.  Not content to leave it there, we are treated to a few more songs including Radiohead’s Climbing Up The Walls and Electioneering before an actual encore of The Beatles’ Lovely Rita – the only track of the night that doesn’t really work for me – and a wonderful version of Karma Police that sees Kirsty Rock leaping from the stage to sing with the crowd.

The Easy Star All-Stars are back in the UK during July.  If they are playing near you, take a trip to the dub side.

John Scott

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