A first time for me; attending a gig at The Brook in Portswood, (It’s a wicked venue by the way!) and a first time for me seeing Dreadzone perform after hearing a few of their songs through my college years.
Dreadzone are known to their loyal fans as the pioneers of electro dub, with a career history spanning twenty years, nine albums under their belt and an ever-changing sound that throws together samples with an electro mash up of dub, reggae, rock, techno and dance. It is safe to say their sound is as relevant today as it was back in the 90s. This relevance was made even more prominent by the mix of young and older people in the audience. I couldn’t help but notice Dreadzone’s expanse of appeal, it seems to span the young ‘trendies’, dreadlocked hippies and the older folk.
I positioned myself towards the back of the dance floor under the low ceiling to soak up the entire atmosphere of the venue. The wide stage with quirky affections weren’t obstructed as the groups and their array of instruments were elevated above the heads of the lively crowd.
The swimming pool steps to the side enabled the support act, Subgiant, to make an energetic entrance. Subgiant are a UK electro trio who really know how to get the crowd pumped. Their experience of playing many festivals has clearly influenced the way they perform. I can only describe it as a high energy electro rock performance with catchy beats and samples, notably their song Filthy which I have added to my pre party playlist.
Despite Subgiant’s relatively short stage time, the crowd were suitably warmed up for Dreadzone to grace the stage. Without the need for an introduction Dreadzone jumped straight in with their first crowd pleaser, a classic from the 90s. They then went on to play a host of songs from their twenty year history including; Iron Shirt, Rise Up, Return of the Dread, Crazy Knowledge, I Know, Digital Mastermind and my absolute favourite Different Planets!
The charismatic front man MC Spee playfully engaged the crowd, addressing the long standing fans like old friends and welcoming the first timers to the Dread family. On stage with MC Spee was Earl 16 on vocals, Chris Compton on guitar, Bazil on technology, Leo Williams on guitar and Dreadzone co-founder Greg Roberts on drums. Their group stage presence radiates a wealth of experience and an intrinsic connection with the music and each other.
Back in the 90s, John Peel (BBC Radio 1 DJ) said Dreadzone’s second album Second Light was one of his all time favourites. With a recent re-release of a digitally mastered version of their 2001 album Sound and a host of gigs and festivals (including Glastonbury) under their belt, it is hard to understand why Dreadzone don’t have more coverage today. As I said earlier their sound is so relevant today and after my awesome experience I will be preaching the Dreadzone name!
I endeavour to see them live again soon and will be listening to their Sound album as I study for the rest of this term! Please take some time to listen and appreciate their unique sound.
All photo’s courtesy Andy Hayes Photography.
Please visit his page for more pictures of the night: