It Ain't No Mistri, We Makin Histri

By Travis Lyle a.k.a DJ Hedmekanik
Tell me sumting, Mr Government Man...

Standing at the bar at Saturday night’s LKJ gig, and along came Neil Comfort, veteran promoter on the Durban music scene from way back since the bad old days and present owner of legendary venue The Rainbow in Pinetown. His muttered comment on the organisation of the gig? ‘Fly by night operators.’ Turns out the organisers – Purple Haze Productions – had to change the Cape Town venue three times (on the day of the gig) because – get this – they only found out that Linton the main man doesn’t play outdoor venues. After he’d arrived on South African soil. The Durban gig followed much the same line, with the venue being changed late on Friday afternoon from the Bluff Showgrounds to the City Hall. But, despite mutterings from other performers about shambolic organisation, it turned out fine. Bear in mind that the City Hall is a soaring gorgeous colonial hall in the style of old, which easily transports visitors back in time to a more genteel age when moulded ceilings, exquisite wrought ironwork and finely crafted woodwork were the order of the day. And, acoustically speaking, the far-flung outdoor Bluff venue isn’t a patch on the cavernous hall. So, all in all the punters won with the venue change, and it didn’t seem to throw too many off the trail – the venue wasn’t exactly packed, but then the City Hall can easily accommodate over a thousand people.

So, to the music. Arriving around 7ish the support acts seen played in with Manoeuvre To Land’s well-crafted and soulful rock, followed by The Tuff Masters’ wailing ghetto reggae, and final support was played by The Meditators who, it must be said, are a very tight outfit and may well knock the ‘Kings Of SA Reggae’ crown from Tidal Waves’ head at some point in the near future. Slick, upbeat and bouncing along, they’re an act you should make an effort to see at all costs. And, in between the bands delivering the sermon to the gathered throng of rastas, hippie dreads and surprisingly straight-looking middle class honkies, was the one and only DJ Paperboy, dropping rare dancehall, dub and early reggae platters, much to the delight of the easy skanking brigade. Talking about skanking, it seemed that the City Hall had been declared a free zone for the night, judging by the brazen burning of blunts taking place outside the hall. Hell, one dread was even walking around with a coconut bong. Real casual, like. Mind you, as one dread said, the City Hall belongs to all of us, the taxpayers and ratepayers especially. But enough of the hors d’ouvres, what of the main course? Backed up by the eminently competent beats of the Dennis Bovell Dub Band, who played a great 20-minute intro set of their own material, LKJ finally took to the stage in trademark hat and jacket, and proceeded to lay down his inimitable dub poetry with ease and style in the patois he’s so well known for. Peppering his set list with illuminating commentary on the origins of each song, he filled the audience in on the state of inner city 1970s Britain and its accompanying police brutality, the difficulties faced by people of colour and the injustices committed in the name of justice from thirty years ago to the present. Having listened to his music for over ten years, it was great to have some light shed on so many of his seminal recordings from the man himself as he wove his way through hit after hit.

This was my last column published on Levi's Original Music Mag before it shuts up shop.

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