Tonight begins with the warm reggae vibes of Talisman. A brightly dressed front man with happy messages of peace and love effortlessly creates a fun, relaxed mood. Talisman were at the peak of their band career during the early 80s and even headlined the Glastonbury Festival. The Bristol based foursome – long associated with the notorious ska label, Recreational Records – do a superb job of loosening up the crowd for The Selecter.
Eight smartly dressed skanksters arrive on stage and we are immediately absorbed by the impact of their presence. Pauline Black and (Arthur) ‘Gaps’ Hendrickson take their narrative roles in tonight’s musical journey which fires off with a sizzling ‘London’s Burning’. Watching them live is so much better than listening to the records.
The soothing rude-girl vocals of Pauline Black alongside Hendrickson’s raw Jamaican-style holler, combined with conventional keyboards, brass and beats, produces a naturally refined and authentic ska sound. This is clearer in the live show. Band members also customise their suits using trilbies, sunglasses and hankies in shirt pockets. The band is a complete package.
The Concorde bounces in unison to the classic, upbeat sounds of ‘The Whisper’ and ‘Train To Skaville’. During ‘Celebrate The Bullet’ the tempo drops and the mood changes. It’s one of tonight’s slower tracks but carries a direct, universal message about the use of guns. A little rocksteady melody in ‘Think About That’ has us ready for an energetic spell as the set reaches a close.
They play ‘James Bond’, ‘Three Minute Hero’ (which is the anthem of the night), ‘Missing Words’ and end with ‘On My Radio’. The Selecter save their biggest hits until later on and leave us with a lasting impression. An encore of ‘Too Much Pressure’ into a cover of ‘Pressure Drop’ (by The Maytals) is the icing on the cake.
This band look good on stage, put on a great show and play great songs. They maintain the fun, feelgood vibes of other popular 2 tone ska bands of that era, such as Madness and Bad Manners, but present themselves more professionally as musicians and performers. The Selecter are irreplaceable and have made an influential mark on the world of ska. Although not as well known, the band is on a on par with The Specials, at least live.
Concorde2, Sunday 24 March 2013
Words by John Mclean
Photos by Samuel Sesemann @ Studio 85UK