Romain Virgo @ Tramshed, Cardiff

“And just like a knight in shining armour/I used my charm just to calm her”

ROMAIN VIRGO made his name as the winner of Jamaica’s Digicel Rising Stars talent contest in 2007 and more than 10 years on is touring the UK to promote his Lovesick album.

The route from talent show winner to stardom is more established on his home island than in European pop music but Virgo is a natural inheritor of the tradition of smooth as silk, male reggae singers. An impressive catalogue of singles have establish a reputation as a slick but considerate heart-throb. As his hour and a half on stage, that includes at least 25 songs, demonstrates – again in the tradition of Jamaican singers – it’s also a catalogue deeper than three LPs, of which Lovesick is the latest. Continue reading

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Macka B @ The Globe, Cardiff

It’s all about the 45/Something about the feel and the vibe

“MACKA B is always about social commentary,” states the veteran British reggae DJ as he launches into ‘Sex Machine’ and gets the crowd to chant its chorus, “She’s more than a sex machine/The woman is a human being”.

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It’s just one more song from a vault of danceheall favourites that typify the Wolverhampton native’s approach, honed over more than 30 years as a solo recording artist, of delivering positive messages to vibrant reggae rhythms. Continue reading

Album of the Year: I Haven’t Been Nicking in Ages – Benji Webbe

A celebration of roots rock reggae

YOU probably don’t really like music if you’re unable to pick an album of the year – and if choosing your album of the year is easy then it’s likely you don’t listen to that much music.

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But Benji Webbe’s ‘I Haven’t Been Nicking in Ages’ is easily the stand out album of 2015. It’s not often the frontman of a rock metal band releases a smooth as silk album of lovers rock and reggae. Continue reading

My top 10 gigs of all time

“I can see clearly now the rain is gone…gone are the dark clouds that had me blind it’s gonna be a bright, sunshiny day”

I DOUBT Johnny Nash was only thinking about the weather when he wrote the above, but counting the days down to spring they, and the time I saw Jimmy Cliff sing them live during a miserable summer in Cardiff, come to mind.
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As the dark clouds of January and February burn away my spring optimism is the promise of live music, getting underway right on cue this Sunday, March 1 with a live show from Maxi Priest on the first day of the season which is also Dydd Gwyl Dewi (Saint David’s Day). Continue reading