Kenyatta “Culture” Hill @ NAC and Four Days in May @ Open 28 March 2013

A mere three gigs to decide upon this evening, having already purchased a ticket for Culture at the Norwich Arts Centre that one was a definite, but Dan Reynolds of the Vagaband had also invited me to his previous band’s reunion gig at Open on the same night. Assuming that “onstage at 10-ish” translates as musician talk for about 10:30 or later, I decided to catch the Culture gig and head to Open about 10:30pm or so. However, also playing tonight were The Neutrinos in a fascinating sounding gig. Hopefully Fallguy, who did attend, will be able to submit a review of that one. Having seen a few photos from it on Facebook I am most intrigued, as these silhouetted figures make it look a most atmospheric and unusual looking gig.

I had to pop into the city in the afternoon to check on my exhibition space etc, and saw a couple of times walking along St Benedicts the unmistakable sight of some members of the Culture band walking about the city. They looked every inch the freezing cold Jamaican rastas on tour in cold spring England!

Culture were a huge force during the roots reggae heyday of the mid-70s, producing many classics, perhaps best known of which was Two Sevens Clash – referring to a biblical prophecy of bad things on a date with two sevens – in the lead up to 1977.

This Norwich gig was, I believe, organised by local reggae legend Tony Roots of Foundation Sound and Skipyard Allstars, who has been promoting and producing reggae in Norwich for decades. If memory serves me well, lead vocalist of Culture Joseph Hill suggested the name of Foundation Sound System to Tony who was holidaying in Jamaica at the time. A powerful and great name which correctly suggests raw roots power and huge bass!

foundation sound system in norwich

foundation sound system in norwich

Tragically, Joseph Hill collapsed whilst on tour some years ago and died. Rather than cancel the remaining dates the band courageously continued, with his son Kenyatta taking over on vocal duties. Apparently he was an absolute sensation and continues to lead the band.

culture at nac

It is clear to see why, after a few reggae classics to get warmed up and the crowd in the mood, the band introduced Culture themselves, and the highly charismatic, tall dreadlocked figure of Kenyatta had the crowd immediately in the palm of his hand. A voice incredibly close to that of his father’s, a natural showman with a tight band and sweet harmonies, the audience was treated to classic after classic and it was one of those beautiful gigs where the band and audience were in absolute harmony. A beautiful set.

culture at nac

culture at nac

culture at nac

culture at nac

culture at nac

culture at nac

It was time now to make a quick dash to Open, and I arrived just as Four Days in May were setting up. I never got around to catching them play in their first incarnation, but it was soon really clear just what a sizable and loyal following they had. The club room was comfortably full, with around 250-300 in the audience, and it was hot and the atmosphere was buzzing inside. It’s rare that I get a chance to see Dan play behind a full drum kit but he was clearly revelling in it and the occasion, really blasting out a full sound. He is a great, great drummer.

four days in may 2

The rest of the band seemed to be having a great time too, bashing out power chords, delivering a brand of indie rock pop, at times Ramones-esque, it could not have been much more different from the Culture set. The audience loved it.

four days in may 1

On my way home I yet again bumped into Culture, and Tony Roots, so managed a brief chat and a couple of signatures from them, they clearly loved the gig as much as we did. I told them I’d love to see them back here and they are welcome back anytime. I get the impression they would very much like to but when it is a bit warmer next time! They did at least bring a bit of Jamaican warmth and sunshine to Norwich tonight though.

Words and photographs by shashamane

more photos to follow …

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