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Concert reviews

Bob Marley Tribute, The Sage, Gateshead, Newcastle - 20th July 2008

Featuring Winston Reedy, Prince Malachi, Earl 16, Michael Prophet & Janet Kay

We've made the trip to Newcastle for two years running now to attend the Boss Sounds Festival, but never just for one event, but this was never going to be just another event. The strength of this line-up, and the fact that this was strictly a one-off show, meant that we were going to have to make the journey. Having seen three of these artists at the Meltdown Reggae Acoustic Songbook a few weeks back, this was the perfect opportunity to see them again playing with a full band, Matic Horns. We made it there in good time to check out the free outdoor event which included Matic Horns supporting Winston Reedy, Prince Malachi and Earl 16. MC was Nicky Ezer of Culture Promotions and the show gave a nice little taste of things to come later in The Sage. Although it was not as well attended as Iíd anticipated, it succeeded in getting people on their feet and dancing in front of the temporary stage. Iím left with a picture of Prince Malachi serenading a little girl in red, who was transfixed as he sang to her Ė a sweet moment.

Hall Two at The Sage is a small, intimate venue with excellent acoustic properties. It reminded me of a cauldron, circular in shape, designed mainly for standing at stage level but with limited seating on levels 1 and 2. The band hit the stage dead on time, and this would set the scene for a show that would run like clockwork throughout, running seamlessly from one artist to the next with Nicky Ezer introducing each in turn. As at Meltdown the band included Buttons Tenyue on Trombone, Adrian Mackenzie on Keyboards and Kyle Brown on Guitar, but this time also featured Drumton Ward (Dub Asante Band) and Colin McNeish (Prince Lincoln Thompson & Royal Rasses).

Ex-Cimarons lead singer Winston Reedy was first up, singing confidently and true, and looking like a man half his age. He sang some nice Lovers Rock hits from the 80ís, but my favourite was the Bob Marley tribute Talkiní Blues. By the end of the set, the crowd were well into their stride and enjoying the show. He was followed by Earl 16, a singer who doesnít seem to have the same stage persona as other artists, but whose voice is as sweet as ever. I really like his version of Simply Redís Holding Back The Years, but for me his version of Malcolm X was a particular highlight. If I heard him correctly, he said that the first time he sang that song was way back in 1973! Next up was Prince Malachi, who gave us Africa Unite and Babylon System from the Marley songbook, but itís Life Cycle that I remember when I look back on the day. That might be because thatís the song he was serenading the little girl in red with earlier in the open-air concert. Michael Prophet then proved that he is as entertaining as ever, and here is a man with bags of stage persona to spare. His quirky, energetic style was much appreciated by the crowd, and he showed that he sings as strongly now as heís ever done. He gave us the same set as at Meltdown, but it sounded very different with a full band behind him. Finally, we were joined by Janet Kay, the Queen of Lovers Rock, who gave us the inevitable Silly Games but also several Marley tunes including a bright and breezy Three Little Birds. This was another great performance, showing that she still has her vocal power and range. All five artists then reconvened on stage for the finale and, given the title of the show, an appropriate rendition of Nice Time.

Personally I'd like to see this show also featuring in Birminham, Bristol and London. The 580-mile round trip was a killer without a stop-over and, as Iím not getting any younger, it took a little while to recover from it. However, this was just one of many excellent reggae events to take place in Newcastle this year, and I look forward with great anticipation to the Boss Sounds Festival to be held over the weekend 18/19th October 2008 at the Newcastle Carling Academy.

Review by Bob Schaffert

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