For £6.50 tonight was going to be a blinder from the outset. The price included four bands, three of whom I already thought were wicked, including living legend one-man-ska-band Chris Murray.
The 7.30 start meant the place was pretty empty for Squab, which was a shame as this band is probably my favourite of the moment. An acoustic version of Claypigeon, with two acoustic guitars, lots of vocal harmonies, and beatboxer Reeps One, it’s soothing acoustic ska-hiphop. What’s more they seem to have toins of fun onstage, and you can tell there’s a lot of improvisation or times when they’re not quite sure what’s going to happen.
Gecko was up next, a three-piece with acoustic guitar, bass and drums. I can’t claim to know anything about them, but am instantly wary of anyone who wears smart trousers out of choice. However, if this is the legacy of the indie-ska acts who are populating the charts at the moment, then I can’t complain. My only criticism would be some of the lyrics seemed a bit weak, including last song ‘Guanabana’.
The Skints came on next, and as Josh pointed out were the only band without an acoustic guitar playing tonight. I think they’re good, but don’t quite understand the hype surrounding them at the moment. They play wicked ska with not a lot of the other crap that people try to mix in these days to be ‘different’. But then a lot of the other Do The Dog bands have also been doing this for the past few years.
However, there’s no denying their recent spate of tours and shows has made them tight and great to watch. The crowd reaction harked back to the vibe of Do The Dog and MoonSka all-dayers of yore, which was a pleasure to witness.
After a short break the man himself took to the stage in front of a fully warmed-up Underworld audience who were ready to sing every word back at him. He played quite a short set unfortunately, but managed to fit in classics such as ‘Heartache’, ‘We Do The Ska’ and ‘One Everything’, as well as taking requests and covering The Specials ‘Doesn’t Make It Alright’.
Towards the end of the set, he invited Reeps One of Squab and the bassist and singer of Gecko onstage for some semi-rehearsed renditions of songs including ‘Rock Steady’. They pulled them off flawlessly, even including a spontaneous beatbox solo. I think everyone left feeling like they had got their money’s worth.