Bedouin Soundclash, Monto Water Rats, London
Husky vocalist Jay Malinowski is rapidly losing his voice onstage. It must be every musician's dream to have a crowd of hundreds singing their lyrics back to them, and judging from the grins on the faces of the Canadian urban reggae trio Bedouin Soundclash, it certainly is theirs. But tonight, the band are probably thankful their sweaty sold-out audience aren't just repeating what they hear, they're taking the strain for Malinowski.
Despite Malinowski's ailment, the rebel song "Gyasi Went Home" still gets the crowd leaping around as much as possible in such a confined space. Bassist Eon Sinclair chats to the front row between almost every song, while the band's effervescent formula of funked-up bass lines, punk-inspired energy and poignant lyrics bubbles as ever for "Walls Fall Down" and "Living in Jungles".
Soundclash are here to promote their new record (to be released and toured in October), so they offer the crowd a newbie. It's difficult to judge because of Malinowski's ailing voice, but on first hearing, it sounds like more trademark upbeat summery jollities, which makes the release date seem inappropriately timed.
"You're going to sing this one for me," says Malinowski as the lads launch into Ben E King's "Stand by Me", which slowly turns into their most famous offering, "When the Night Feels My Song". Relentless radio airplay in summers gone by has had no effect on the pure joy of its campfire strings and rhythms, as the crowd join in ever-louder choruses of "hey beautiful day".
Soundclash encore with "Rude Boy Don't Cry" and "Nothing to Say", before disappearing again. But the crowd sing determinedly to encourage them back to the stage. Returning for "Shadow of a Man", it's still not enough for the fans, who shout for one more. It must be a great feeling to be so wanted, but Malinowski's voice can't handle any more, and the fans don't get their way this time. They'll just have to wait for October.
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