MuffJam - Pama International & Mad Professor @ Cargo, Thursday 9th March 2006
A young hippie-ish couple are prancing, pirouetting and throwing various contemporary dance shapes in the area in front of the bar. Yes, we’re in Shoreditch, for a night of live international and homegrown talent from promoters MuffJam.
Following the demise of their eclectic and laudably ambitious nights in Brixton, MuffJam are back East with a more stripped down approach promoting live gigs and events at Cargo. But that eclecticism remains in tonight’s lineup – the accessible easy going soul ska rocksteady and roots of Pama International contrasted with the thunderous contemporary dub of The Mad Professor, a reminder if ever we needed one that reggae is not a ‘genre’ but the music of an entire culture.
Against a projected backdrop of ganja plants and cut ups from the film Rockers, Pama International make the most of the venue’s superior PA (last October’s appearance at 93 Feet East had members of the crowd shouting at the engineers to raise the bass) and play an effortlessly slick set, showcasing some new songs, and cementing their reputation as one of the tightest bands in town.
We then get half an hour’s selection from MuffJam mainstays and local boys Disco 45, who drop a couple of roots crowd pleasers before taking us on a deft tour of the dancehall.
The place is packed when the Mad Professor hits the stage, and he hits it HARD!!! Cavernous bass, harmonized vocals, machine gun beats and Black Steel’s live melodica mount an all-frequency audio attack: the highlights including a mix of Burning Spears Old Marcus Garvey which raises the earthy march of the original to celestial heights, and a thumping version of Malcolm X that filled the room.
When so many live events have lots of similar sounding artists on the bill, nights like this make a refreshing change. Celebrating the diversity of reggae music is no bad thing…
Review by Angus Taylor