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Easy Star All-Stars reviewed

Published: 15 Nov 2012 09:301 comment

Dub, one love, Michael Jackson and massive dreads were the themes for two sunny sets at Reading's Sub89 on Thursday, November 1.

THRILLING: Easy Star All-Stars

London-based band The Skints' supporting set got the crowd warmed up in more ways than one, as music-lovers poured in from the bitter cold of the evening. They have performed with the likes of Less Than Jake, Gym Class Heroes and You Me At Six and they got the floor bouncing as the bass soared. The audience jammed that bit lower as Marcia Richard's vocals kicked in with a cover of Dawn Penn's You Don't Love Me (No No No) and they blissfully rocked through to closing track Culture Vulture.

There is no fuss with The Skints, their edgy, reggae-infused punk tracks met with total audience approval and they garnered much-deserved praise from the face of the All-Stars, vocalist and bassist Ras I Ray. I didn't want to open my review with any cliche reggae lines, but the authentic collective, Easy Star All-Stars, made it (almost) credible for crowds to experiment with their inner Rastafarian, which they did.

That said, it was an undeniably cool affair where boundaries were broken, personal space was invaded, and neighbours became friends - helped by a rendition of Beatles classic With A Little Help From My Friends, from the All-Stars' tribute album Lonely Hearts Dub Band.

The touring group are famous for adding a Caribbean flavour to iconic albums under the watch of producer Michael Goldwasser, and the night's theme was Michael Jackson's Thriller, from the band's album Thrillah! But that didn't stop them dropping in fan-favourites, including Radiohead's Karma Police and Pink Floyd's Money. If I'm honest, while the covers of the king of pop's greatest tracks, including Thriller, Billie Jean and Human Nature, got a huge reaction, the biggest buzz of the evening came when the American super-group pulled their Karma Police cover out of the bag. Bob Marley's Redemption song, performed by the stunningly soulful Shelton Garner Jr, saw the largest singalong of the evening.

There was a fair bit of dad dancing among the smoother groovers, and some killer moves from a chap who had taken the Jackson spirit to a whole new level. He summed up the atmosphere for me - there was no holding back, just authentic beats and crowd-pleasing sounds.

Sadly Hurricane Sandy had unleashed her fury on the band's travel plans and the All-Stars were a few members down, but this took none of the shine off their incredibly uplifting two-hour set.

Ras I Ray embodied the true heart of the band. Smiling throughout, vibing beautifully with the others and addressing the crowd at every opportunity.

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