Date: August 6th 2015
Opening Band: New Kingston
I’ve been listening to Steel Pulse for about 20 years but last night was the first time I ever saw them perform live. I’m not sure the last time the UK reggae band played New York City but the venue was sold out and packed to the gills.
B.B. King Blues Club holds lots of reggae shows and has been doing that for years. When they sell out, it’s hard to walk around the club, which it was last night. The club is nice, it’s just almost too small for these type of shows (even though it’s a decent size club) and it’s hard to see. Well, that is if you’re a short guy like myself and being stuck behind Rastas with 10 foot hats on.
Easy Star Records’ recording Artists New Kingston started things up, and I really liked their sound. Easy Star has been releasing awesome album after album lately, and it’s quite impressive. Sort of like the punk band Radkey, the band features three brothers and their Father on bass. Although Radkey has their Dad as their manager. I was in the back of the club with my twin brother and had a good spot, but I wanted to get closer to shoot the show. I made my way up in the crowd and got a decent spot behind the first row of people. I don’t smoke and the weed was out in full force, obviously. At least the weed wasn’t the shitty skunk kind that I smell in my apartment building from time to time. I just went with it and enjoyed the set of New Kingston, dancing and snapping photos when I can. I was amazed at the drummer who sang, played drums and made the best musician faces. I’m not sure what songs were played but I’m assuming some were off their new album Kingston City, which came out in January.
As we waited for Steel Pulse come on, the DJ played some reggae classics and annoyingly stopped them over and over again. I never like when DJs do that but he definitely played a lot of songs I liked. I waited up front and a tall rasta with a big ass hat plopped in front of me, making it difficult to get a clear spot in front. I knew I should have waited by the stage when I got to the club an hour early. Steel Pulse came on and the crowd was dancing and lighting up as expected. I tried to get some photos around the tall people around me; I’m too damn short for no photo pits shows.
I was enjoying myself until some asshole made his way right into my space. I tried to deal with it and just continue shooting and dancing. He kept looking at me, and putting his hands up like whoa quit it or I’m going to hit you motion. I told him, you moved into MY space, I’m shooting the show so what do you want? I looked at the people next to me and they rolled their eyes at the guy and shook their head, so it’s not like I was in the wrong. He continued to be quite aggressive and a prick with his dancing and seemed like it was going to lead to a confrontation so I moved. I tried to move over a little and then I got yelled at to move from people. I apologized and just went all the way in the back of the club. I could barely move, couldn’t see and ended up on the left side of the club. I eventually claimed a spot on the steps and thankfully was a good spot to watch the rest of the set and take pictures. That experience made me want to leave the show but I’m glad I stuck around to see Steel Pulse perform a killer set.
They played songs like “Black and Proud,” “Worth His Weight In Gold,” “Taxi Driver,” I think “Drug Squad” and one of my favorites “Chant A Psalm.” “Chant A Psalm” was definitely my favorite song of the night. I used to listen to that song all the time, and I really got into Steel Pulse from Dexi B’s radio show at WVKR at Vassar College. I think my older Brother listened to Steel Pulse a lot as well. At one point, David Hinds switched things up and played an acoustic song, which I’m not sure the name of the song.
My main albums that I listened to were Earth Crisis and True Democracy, and I still think those 2 albums are some of the best reggae albums ever created. I think 2 or 3 songs or so were played from each album. I would have liked to have heard “Tightrope,” “Throne of Gold” and “Roller Skates” but it wasn’t meant to be that night. Although, “Steppin Out” was played during the lengthy encore! Another stand-out track they played was actually a newer one. Not sure if it was called “Hands Up, I Can’t Breathe” but that’s what was said in the song. That might have been a crowd favorite besides “Chant a Psalm.” The band and everybody else were putting their hands up at the end.
I can’t believe it’s been this long without seeing Steel Pulse but finally happy I saw the band. I just wish some of the experiences I had at the show were better. Not the fault of the band and the overall crowd; there’s always going to be a few bad apples.