Catch a Fire began with a mellow opening of Concrete Jungle, to an audience seated around tables, which included a mix of music students and older couples; including some donning Jamaican flags in support of its celebration to 50 years of Jamaican Independence this year.
Brinsley Forde led the show with ease, a highly talented and natural performer, joined by Jazz Jamaica All Stars and the Urban Soul Orchestra, who I interviewed prior to the show.
The Catch a Fire track was broken down to just a few instruments played by Jazz Jamaica All Stars, and the show’s atmosphere was built powerfully back up with Redemption Song, on which Brinsley’s vocals really impressed the audience. The three female backing singers, introduced as “dem tree,”continuously danced throughout, and added to the impressive performance. Performers then took a very early interval due to technical difficulties, but the concert got underway in the longer second half.
Not sure what to expect from a reggae tribute performed by an orchestra, all three acts convinced me it can work, remarkably well in fact, despite a difficult seating arrangement for the audience. The layout slightly imposed on the infectious reggae atmosphere in perhaps a too big a venue for its turnout and sound, but by the second half most had managed to make their way to the front to skank out to Marley hits like Kinky Reggae and One Love.
They finished with individual thankyou’s to all performers – including to one girl from Southampton performing in Jazz Jamaica All Stars who had lots of supporters in the crowd – and an encore of Lively Up Yourself, by which point everyone had, just in time before the two hour show had finished.