Groundation @ Paris, Bataclan on June 6th, 2006
Paris, Bataclan, June 6th, 2006 : Groundation, who started their 2006 European tour on May 29th, are making a two day stop in Paris for two dates at the Bataclan, one of the nicest venues in Paris.
Seven musicians get on stage: the three original members that founded the band in 1998, Harrison Stafford (lead singer and guitar), Marcus Urani (keyboard) and Ryan Newman(bass guitar), plus Kesley Howard (trombone), David Chachere (trumpet), Paul Spina (drums), and Mingo Lewis (percussions). Two back up singers were there to complete the scenery.
The audience gives a warm welcome to the band. Groundation’s music is sophisticated with the basics of roots reggae from the 70’s mixed with jazzy accents and solos here and there, the whole thing done in harmony. The band works like a jazz band giving the audience the opportunity to witness solos and interactions amongst the different instruments.
Harrison Stafford is as enthusiastic and excited as the crowd. He and his band seem really happy to be here tonight. That’s really nice and refreshing to see that much energy and good vibes blowing in the air of the Bataclan. Groundation revisits most of the tunes of its famous Hebron Gate album. For those who appreciated the association Don Carlos – Groundation on some of the songs of that LP, the Jamaican singer is greatly missing on those particular tunes. Even though Harrison Stafford is managing to interpret those songs on three different voice levels, it sounds like one voice is just not enough. I didn’t hear much of the two back up singers, and that’s unfortunate because they would have been a great help at that moment of the concert. Too bad… However, Harrison Stafford compensates Don Carlos’ absence on those few songs with a tremendous amount of energy. All the musicians put on a pretty impressive performance that makes this show very enjoyable.
The band is obviously very enthusiastic about being here tonight. Stafford talks to the crowd expressing his gratitude and excitement to be at the Bataclan. What is appreciable when he’s addressing the public is that you don’t get the feeling he’s giving people a lesson. Maybe that’s what Groundation is all about, throwing away our society’s prejudices and putting people on the same level. This “Groundation” approach is perceptible when the band’s playing, every musician getting about the same time of solo playing. On one hand, this is fairly unusual ans truly appreciable to travel and revisit Groundation’s tunes through various sounds and instruments’ interpretations. On the other hand, those solos are so long that it gives you impression that what you’ve just heard would be perfect in that song if not so long or maybe arranged differently.
To not sound too harsh because it wouldn’t be fair to Groundation, considering their performance , talent, energy and enthusiasm during tonight’s concert, the band put on a good show, and gave a good idea of what they’re capable of. It also gave a fresh air to a genre that sometimes is looking for a second breath. With their potential, work and talent, Groundation will surely proceed to make live and evolve reggae music which, these days, needs artists like them.
Review by Briac Le Camus