Luciano at The Stratford Rex Sunday 9th December 2001At last, after the cancellation of his participation in the earlier gig this year Luciano had made it back. Much was said then about the reasons for his non-appearance, due to band disputes, including that with Dean Fraser and his female backing singers. This time he arrived backed by his own "Jah Messanjah" band and a fine foursome of sistren, providing the sweet harmonies. The excitement built throughout the night. First band up were the London based force of "Sistas-women of Reggae" the fine all female group of musicians, vocalists and DJ's. They mixed and blended a few styles, from roots to Dancehall and did a good job of building some vibes.
Lady G gets a big up for her wonderful jugglings through the night. The Choice FM DJ always comes up trumps and she didn't fail this night, including a tremendous selection in rememberance of DJ Village, letting the lyrics do the talking! David Rodigan complimented as MC' and did an expectedly good job proving he is always an asset to any show.
Step up the Ras-Ites, getting stronger every time I see them. Following promotion of their Jet Star CD "Urban Regeneration" around Europe, the young lads were back in London and playing up a storm. I hate to make comparisons but I can't help but think back to an early, youthful Aswad when I see these fellas'. Musically they are so tight, and appear to have been playing together for years despite there incredibly young age. Most of the tunes were there including there re-working of the Natural Ites "Picture on the wall" and the top tune "High Grade". If you haven't yet checked them out, make sure you do!
Mikey General took the stage looking every part the righteous Rastaman he is. I have to admit to not being too impressed by Mikeys earlier releases, or maybe some have just passed me by, but I was sold on his performance here. From the soaring "Selassie I Sons & Daughters" (available on his collaboration album with Luciano-Wisdom, Knowledge & Overstanding) to the red hot "Fire Nah Cease" Mikey earned his title as General. By stature you wouldn't believe such a sweet, melodic, trembling voice could come out of such a man.
By now the crowd was well ready for Luciano and with the sound of the old Spiritual "Power Fall on I" reverberating around the venue He appeared staff in hand. Luciano brought his Rod of Correction and the people listened. He led into the first track from the New Day album, the Nyahbinghi fuelled "No night in Zion" and then halted the proceedings to draw out his bible and give us a reading from Jeremiah. Blessing the show as he is so famous for doing. The rest of his performance became one thrill after another. With a mountain of tunes available, Luciano gave a piece from most of his Albums but concentrated quite rightly on the new. Tracks like "One away Ticket", "Bandits" and "Come away home" (from the "We Three Kings" collaboration album) took the crowd to a different place, spiritually and musically. Whilst Luciano received rapturous shouts and cheers when he stepped into his re-working of "Legalise It" lighting the hugest spliff and exhaling plumes of smoke that filled the stage. He moved into "Over the Hills" and the crowd sang along, voices in unison. Then changing up the vibe to Ska and welcoming a Rasta Elder onto the stage (not Sure who he was ?) who proceeded to Skank it up a storm, Luciano kept calling him back to the delight of the crowd. He then led us on his knees in rememberance of DJ Village and into "Its me again JAH" in Livication of the too soon taken from us, Radio one DJ. Luciano must have performed for 80 mins or more, and for an encore came back with on a duet with Mikey General and an energetic re-working of "Its me again JAH"
The whole night was pure vibes from start to finish. The audience included men like Lloydie Coxsone as well as a true 'regular guy' and artical', Wyclef, and later Shaggy alongside Rayvon. All just hanging out in the crowd, no entourage or egos, feeling the vibes like everyone else. A brief chat with Luciano and Mikey after the show revealed an album release from Mikey around April time. Luciano being his usual humble self, despite obviously being exhausted after the show, was still meeting the fans and signing posters. A righteous Rastaman if ever there was one. Long may you reign Luci' ...... Review by Sister Ali