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October 15 2005: STEEL PULSE at The Drum, Aston, Birmingham, ENGLAND:

What a homecoming! The Drum witnessed the emotional return to Birmingham of its' favourite sons as Steel Pulse turned in a sensationally highly-charged performance in their first full gig in their home city for a decade. The power of David Hinds' voice carried the Steel Pulse message to the converted as the audience danced and clapped their way through a two-hour set with the loudest cheer of the night reserved for the anthem, Handsworth Revolution, classic Pulse and a rallying cry for the band's faithful followers who'd turned up in their droves.

With my ears still ringing from the previous night's dynamic performance in Shrewsbury, I was lucky enough to catch some of the soundcheck a couple of hours before the live show and its abundantly clear that they go to great lengths to ensure their execution of each song is rehearsed until it's spot-on. Make no mistake, this is a band that take their profession and their commitment to their fans very seriously.

Ras Rebel warmed the crowd up, as he'd done on the band's European tour last year, before the whole arena erupted as Steel Pulse arrived on stage at 11.20pm. The set-list almost mirrored the Shrewsbury concert but the performance itself had been turned up a notch as the hometown audience were treated to a breathtaking repertoire of classic and contemporary Pulse, liberally sprinkled with electrifying and passionate vocals, fabulous musicianship and roots reggae of the highest order. Steel Pulse were at their very best and no-one does it better.

Blessed Is The Man replaced Bodyguard in the early part of the show as the band powered their way through vintage songs such as Rally Round, Rollerskates, Taxi Driver and their KKK Medley, including the anthemic Ku Klux Klan, which the audience joined in with to a man. Their more recent work was well represented with No More Weapons, African Holocaust (including Baruch's rap) and Make Us A Nation before Don't Give In signalled the end of their main set, allowing David, Selwyn, Amlak, C-Sharp, Melanie and Keisha a well-deserved chance to catch their breath. The band have always been highly regarded for their lively stage show and the dynamism and energy levels they put into their performance shows no sign of diminishing.

Meanwhile, remaining on-stage, Moonie accompanied by Sidney on keyboards gave a virtuoso lead guitar solo demonstration that left the audience open-mouthed. Whenever I see this man perform, he just gets better and better.

The whole band returned to perform their Nyahbinghi-rhythm inspired version of Chant A Psalm before the first few bars of Handsworth Revolution literally brought the house down, as the audience exploded into song. Steppin' Out, Door of No Return and Emotional Prisoner rounded off the set with the band members introductions including the surprise though very welcome appearance on stage of their legendary drummer Steve "Grizzly" Nisbett. A perfect way to end a wonderful night in the presence of 'The Greatest Reggae Band on the Planet'.

Personally, it was a great way to celebrate my 46th birthday and to meet so many Pulsers especially Jude, Sarah, Tim, Yoni, Hannah and Steve. We all had a fantastic time and the Birmingham crowd gave the band the reception they truly deserve on their return to their home city.

Set-List:

Intro Medley

Rally Round

Rollerskates

Blessed Is The Man

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)

 Don't Give In

 Encore:

 Moonie Guitar solo accompanied by Sidney on Keyboards

Chant A Psalm

Handsworth Revolution

Steppin' Out

Door of No Return

Emotional Prisoner & band members introductions with brief solos,

and appearance of Steve "Grizzly" Nisbett

 

- Andy Brouwer -

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