The first album from Brooklyn's Easy Star All-Stars, Dub Side of the Moon, a reggae makeover of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, was a huge sleeper hit on the bucket-bong circuit in 2003. The New Yorkers' delightful recreation was also welcomed by music critics. Fusing dub and prog, two of the great psychedelic genres, seemed to make perfect sense.
The All-Stars' follow-up was a no-brainer: OK Computer reimagined as a Studio One album. OK's jazzy time signatures and art-rock layers and textures work rather brilliantly on the inevitably titled Radiodread. And what are the Oxford gloom-mongers perennially railing against, if not Babylon? The Rastafarian words "downpression" (oppression) and "politricks" (politics) could almost be Radiohead song titles.
Live, the All-Stars came lacking the star turns on Radiodread. No Horace Andy, Sugar Minott or Toots and the Maytals. But they made up for it with sheer vim in a sold-out Dingwalls. Tonight, they were a seven-piece, complete with a honking brass section (trombone and sax), clavinet and melodica. The set comprised a slab of the All-Stars' own bubbly roots stuff (to prove that they're not just a tribute band), and there were a few Dub Side tracks, such as "Money" and "Breathe". The Radiohead covers were played in OK order, but there was no "The Tourist" or "No Surprises".
For "Airbag", the rasta notion of "everliving", of immortality, took the Don DeLillo bite out of the line about resurrection in an "interstellar burst". An organ-led skank turned Thom Yorke's acid irony into a joyous celebration. The despair of "Let Down" was recast as jump-around ska. "Subterranean Homesick Alien" exploded with dramatic, Phil Spector-like choruses.
There were, of course, shades amid all the rum-soaked sunshine. "Electioneering" could almost have been written with Jamaican politics in mind. "Climbing up the Walls" and "Paranoid Android", as sung by Tamar-kali, evoked the witchy voodoo of Rastafarian worship ceremonies. They also recalled those other neo-prog godheads Massive Attack. But this was, in the main, a euphoric experience: a rush of blood and fire to the 'Head.
Whitby Pavilion Complex (01947 820 625) tonight;Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal (01539 725 133) tomorrowReuse content