LIVE reggae shows have been few and far between in Cardiff lately but just like the buses you wait ages for one, and then two influential Jamaican artists come along at once.
Yellowman and Dillinger opened the second night of their UK tour at the Globe, in Albany Road, Roath on Thursday, February 27 and were greeted by what looked like a crowd not far short of its 350 capacity, even with tickets still available on the door.
‘The call went out to one and all and you’ve all responded,’ enthused compere on the night, Scorpion – the host of the Radical Mix Show on Radio Cardiff and a veteran figure of the local reggae scene.
King Yellowman’s regular backing musicians, the Sagittarius Band took to the stage and before long 60-year-old Dillinger was bounding across it.
As Sagittarius laid down rhythms from the 70s golden age, when Dillinger made his name as toasters progressed from sound systems to the recording studios, the deejay rode them with the skill and energy of a Caymanas Park winner.
After some 25 minutes Dillinger slipped to the side, but no-one was buying that he’d finished his set without performing his signature song. Bouncing back Dillinger was leaning into the crowd, from the foot high stage, in people’s faces and happily posing for camera phones as he ripped through his biggest hit, ‘Cocaine In My Brain’.
Yellowman returned to the Globe stage, where he’d performed in May 2011, kicking out and high-stepping through his impressive back catalogue and even mixing things up, switching between verses of his ‘Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt’ with the Toots and the Maytals classic ’54-46 (That’s My Number)’.
As an albino who grew up in Jamaican children’s homes, the 58-year-old has faced life as an outsider but his skill on the mic took him to the pinnacle of reggae music in the early 1980s as dancehall emerged as the dominant style and he its charismatic, controversial and sexually explicit star.
Even invasive surgery, at the height of his fame, to remove a cancerous tumour from his jaw, which has left him disfigured, failed to stop Yellowman who re-launched his career with ‘Blueberry Hill’, another crowd favourite in Cardiff along with his classics ‘Zungguzungguzeng’ and ‘I’m Getting Married’.
Winning a Jamaican talent contest allowed Yellowman the opportunity to win acceptance and the King constantly tells the crowd ‘I love you,’ and ‘I love reggae music’. However after a ‘Wales I love you’ is quickly followed by groans from the crowd when he mentions England has been a constant supporter of his recording career, he laughs and reels away from the mic and his intended thank you speech.
An energetic hour on stage, which included gesturing with the microphone during his safe sex message ‘Use Your Rubber, Rubber’ was followed by a brief encore.
Some feedback from the mic, and a seemingly short-staffed bar, with a bouncer pressed into service, were only minor complaints on a night reggae returned to the Globe.
If you’re back on that Cardiff reggae bus stop, don’t worry as you won’t be waiting in vain, Culture and Britain’s Misty in Roots are both confirmed live shows at the Globe later this year.
*Sadly I missed local support Tafijah Allstars so if anyone has an opinion on their performance make it known below