Friday, 26 July 2013


Mr Marley Sir, We Jammed in your honour.

Brinsley Forde and the 'Catch A Fire' Project
I had no intention of blogging about 'Catch A Fire'; the orchestral interpretation of the 1973, Bob Marley and the Wailers film, that saw Brinsley Forde of ASWAD fame, lead the Jazz Jamaica brass band, the Urban Soul Orchestra string section, and the VoiceLab choir, in a unique reggae and jazz fusion that literally raised the roof. But what was supposed to be a rare evening off for a family outing, turned into a display of such original and innovative beauty, that I've been left with no choice but to tell you about it.

Being the Royal Festival Hall, it goes without saying that the acoustic friendly venue was the absolute perfect setting for an event of this nature. Even if there weren't solos showcasing the borderline ethereal abilities of almost every member of the rhythmic and brass sections, the natural sound meant there wasn't a note from any that went unheard...

Playing 6 tracks per show half; the arrangements by a sorely missed Jason Yarde, gave a brilliant introspective into some of the most beautiful moments in Jamaican musical history. From the Concrete Jungle opener, the amazing Mr Forde echoed the great Tuff Gong so closely, that this here music lover was not the only one to comment on the repeated chills experienced throughout.  In 30+ degree heat, rest assured, the air conditioning didn't have a thing to do with it. 'Slave Driver' followed, before 'Stop That Train'; the first of two tracks paying homage to the incomparable Peter Tosh. With the audience slowly but surely, stirring from the sun-induced stupor; 'Baby We've Got A Date (Rock It Baby)', set the mood to 'Fully Engrossed' with the swift speed of a switch being flipped. 'Midnight Ravers' led to a little touch of 'Kinky Reggae'; and before you knew it, the first set was over and done with.

To say the second opened with a 'pulling no punches' rendition of 'Stir It Up', would be an understatement of EPIC proportions, as Forde's Marley-esque moves coaxed even the shyest of spectators out of their seats. The 240-strong VoiceLab most certainly made their welcome presence known for 'No More Trouble' and Tosh's second tribute, '400 Years'; by which time, almost the entire auditorium were on their feet. Band / Merriment Leader Gary Crosby left Brinsley Forde to lead VoiceLab and the Urban Soul Orchestra in a rendition of 'Redemption Song' so eerily captivating, that an awful lot of Souls in the room got seriously touched up...

In true Lolita fashion, Forde gave the musical equivalent of flashing a bit of thigh teasing with snippets of 'Waiting In Vain' and 'I Shot The Sheriff', before Crosby returned, and resumed some semblance of order. 'One Love' took the crown for 'Biggest Sing-A-Long'; before the roof erupted for 'Lively Up Yourself'.

If Robert Nestor Marley himself had been in attendance, I firmly believe he would have loved the 'Catch A Fire' Project. More than just honouring him musically; the vibe and camaraderie from audience members - previously strangers, sharing stories in between the music; dancing together, as though they had known each other all of their lives - was the very essence of what we have come to learn the man behind the music was all about. For a few short hours, in the Royal Festival Hall's Southbank Centre, everyone shared One Love.

Were you in the building? Have you caught the live show? What was your take on the night? Share your thoughts in the comment box below!

Until the next...
ES ;)