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October 20 2005: STEEL PULSE at The Mean Fiddler, London, ENGLAND:

London's Mean Fiddler venue in the heart of the city's busy Oxford Street area had the honour of hosting the final concert of Steel Pulse's trio of British dates. It was the band's sixth gig in a week and followed a gruelling cross-country hike, hot from three shows in Holland.

On arriving in London, I literally bumped into Selwyn amongst the Oxford Street crowds and took him up on his invitation to the soundcheck, where the band rehearsed various sections of the song Black Enough? for forty minutes until they were note and pitch perfect, finishing with a run through of No More Weapons, just as the more eager Pulsers filtered through the doors at 7.30pm. The ever-growing audience enjoyed the Trojan Sound System as they awaited Pulse's arrival on stage whilst I chatted to Baffour, a Pulser originally from Ghana and now living in London. We commiserated with each other over the rarity of Pulse's British shows though we were delighted to be present for only their second London gig in the last eight years.

To a great reception, Pulse entered the arena at 9.20pm and kicked-off with their Intro Medley. As I expected, Black Enough? was included, perfectly I might add to emphasize the importance of rehearsals, just before No More Weapons, fast becoming one of my favourite songs of their live performance.

I thought I detected a different arrangement from the two earlier shows I'd attended, but what was evident was the crystal clear quality of sound coming from the stage. David's voice and Moonie's guitar solo's were proof of this, and credit must go to the Pulse stage crew for doing such a fine job. The only blot on their copybook was a problem with Selwyn's mike which limited his usual cross-stage high jinks, though his steering-wheel routine was still in evidence during Taxi Driver. You can't keep a good man down for long!

Vocally, it was top drawer stuff. Moonie's guitar solo's shone brilliantly, and Amlak when he gets the chance is a real crowd pleaser. Everyone was on top of their game and the well-honed artistry and humour the band offer up makes a Steel Pulse live performance one to savour. Just ask anyone at The Mean Fiddler.

A dub start to Soldiers and a heavily-dubbed second-half of Global Warning were indicative of the increasing inclusion of this musical style (lyric-less, a lot of bass and echo) in the Pulse set. The encore began with Moonie and Sidney's party piece, the revamped version of Chant A Psalm (including a welcome to Dennis Bovell, the band's first producer, who was in the audience), Global Warning, a call and response from Sidney on Emotional Prisoner before an extended solo by each band member. The show closed at 11pm to long and loud applause.

It was another great performance from a group at the top of their profession, who work incredibly hard to make it look so easy. You'd be mad not to check them out next time they're in your area. As ever, my thanks and appreciation to the band members for their warm welcome and I look forward to renewing acquaintances next time they're in my back-yard.

Set-List:

Intro Medley

Rally Round

Rollerskates

Black Enough?

No More Weapons

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

Pan Africans Unite

African Holocaust

Make Us A Nation

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 and solos

- Andy Brouwer -

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