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October 14 2005: STEEL PULSE at The Jazz & Roots Club, The Buttermarket, Shrewsbury, ENGLAND:

Shrewsbury's Buttermarket venue is fast developing a reputation as a hotbed of roots reggae, so it was fitting that Steel Pulse chose it for the first concert of a trio of British dates. A late soundcheck was still in full flow as the first of the pulsers arrived at 9.30pm and were treated to an impromptu public rehearsal.

 With the crowd expectant, the band returned on-stage a little after 11pm for the live show and immediately launched into a brief Intro Medley and onto a full version of Rally Round (the flag). Rollerskates and Bodyguard followed before the first of four songs from their latest album, No More Weapons, the video for which I recently saw on MTV Base. This rendition was superb. Soldiers, part song/part dub, kicked off the Medley Medley segment and preceded Taxi Driver, with Selwyn and David bouncing across the stage with typical gusto and humour, ahead of Ravers, Blues Dance Raid and Reggae Fever.

With David in great voice, ably fortified by Selwyn, Melanie and Keisha on supporting vocals, the audience were treated to a masterclass Steel Pulse vocal performance, whilst C-Sharp and Amlak kept the rhythm pumping and Sid and Moonie oozed class, the latter showing his gifted guitar work at various points in the show.

The energy generated by David and Selwyn's on-stage high jinks and the girls' non-stop dance moves transferred to the crowd, who grew in voice as the band performed Pan Africans Unite and a roaring African Holocaust. David's son Baruch appeared briefly to join in the fun with a powerful rap during the latter, which he's performed just half a dozen times before.

Make Us A Nation paved the way for the KKK Medley, with the audience lapping up this selection of classic cuts that included Ku Klux Klan, Prediction, Macka Splaff, Sound Check, Jah Pickney, Biko's Kindred Lament and Harassment. A full version of Handsworth Revolution gave the older members of the crowd further encouragement to exercise their lungs, which David and Selwyn topped off with their call and response 'try try' chorus during Don't Give In. And where David gets his stamina from for his trademark 'spotty dog' walk, I don't know. The crowd loved it and called for more as the band left the stage.

Moments later, with the lights dimmed, Sid and Moonie returned for their keyboard and stunning lead guitar solo. The rest of the band joined them for the revamped and slower rendition of Chant A Psalm with David on congas providing a commentary on important anniversaries and dedications, Sid on bongos and Moonie on acoustic guitar. It worked for me. A dubbed version of Global Warning completed the quartet of songs from the African Holocaust album, followed by a glorious Emotional Prisoner and band member introductions to round off a dynamic two-hour show.

My thanks to all the band for being their customary accessible and friendly selves, including Amlak who sang happy birthday to me in Portuguese! A fantastic night and a wonderful precursor to the band's long-awaited Birmingham show the following evening.

Set-List:

 Intro Medley

Rally Round (The Flag)

Rollerskates

Bodyguard

No More Weapons

Medley Medley Medley (Soldiers, Taxi Driver, Ravers, Blues Dance Raid, Reggae Fever)

Pan Africans Unite

African Holocaust

Make Us A Nation

KKK Medley (KKK, Prediction, Macka Splaff, Soundcheck, Jah Pickney RAR, Biko's Kindred Lament, Harassment)

Handsworth Revolution

 Don't Give In

 Encore:

Moonie Guitar solo accompanied by Sidney on Keyboards

Chant A Psalm

Global Warning

Emotional Prisoner including band member introductions

- Andy Brouwer -

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