There have been a number of high profile reunions over the past few years, many have been highly anticipated, others, er not so. I have had the pleasure of seeing a few of these events and although many will be cynical, I have to say I have been pleasantly surprised.
The recent reunions that spring to mind that I have witnessed include The Police, Blur, P.I.L. and the Specials and I have to say these were some of the best live concerts I have witnessed.
So how did Big Audio Dynamite fair?
For me this was not a homecoming gig for which I had been waiting for years, they were a band I quite liked back in the 1980’s and were an incredibly progressive band of the times. Pushing the boundaries of music, using many influences from Hip Hop, rock, funk, country, reggae and pop. When we have got used to the re-hashing of old musical styles and the safety of much of the music around, this band showed how you could push the boundaries and experiment in a populist setting.
So it was with great anticipation that 9pm approached waiting for the band to arrive. The lights dimmed and the spaghetti western music began. Finally, the back door opened and the band arrived – Don Letts, Greg Roberts, Leo ‘E-Zee-Kill’ , Dan Donovan and Mick Jones arrived on stage and began with “Medicine Show”, with the crowd in raptures. A fitting start from the opening track of their first album.
The sound was great and the tightness of the band was clear to see. Mick Jones was on excellent form all night with banter with the crowd and mocking his own elderly statesman figure. He apologised for the cancelled gig back in 1988 in Bristol, and got a cheer when he mentioned that the clash’s last gig he played was in Bristol.
As the night wore on the tunes kept coming and the crowd, was in great spirits all night, singing to every song making Micks life easy at the microphone. This turned into a sing a long as each song came and went.
The crowd was a mixed bunch of young and old, mostly of the older generation, but some even bringing their families. The band seemed incredibly happy throughout the set. Having seen so many miserable songsmiths on stage over the years, to see a band in their twilight years enjoying and lapping up every moment was just great to see. It was a party atmosphere all night. At one point near the end of the set Mick Jones said “it had been an amazing 2 weeks”, while Don Letts shouted out “I can’t believe I’m here”!
Eventually, after what seemed a ridiculously short time Mick announced that it was nearly time to go while launching into “The Battle of all Saints Road”. Then into “Rewind” and it was all wave goodbyes and off the stage. The noise was deafening as the crowd urged the band back on, after all, I heard the mutterings, “they havn’t played E=MC” yet!
They came back for the encore and played “The bottom line”, and then launched into their biggest hit “E=MC”. The crowd loved it, as did the band and then they were off stage again. Mick was generous with his attention for the crowd before he waved goodbye, and to our surprise they came back for a second and final encore.
A change of guitar and they launched into “Rush”. The crowd loved it, the atmosphere was great and the band were excellent.
Over an hour and a half of superb music, and by the end the mosh pit was well and truly on its way, old and young alike.
This was a superb night. An unexpected reunion that worked brilliantly because the songs are good, the lyrics still relevant today and the musicians are excellent. This was an excellent gig.
Beyond the Pale
Just Play that Music
C’mon Every Beatbox
The Battle of All Saints Road
The Bottom Line