Saturday, May 28, 2005

Jah Shaka at the Coronet, Friday May 20, by J

The Coronet is a new venue for Jah Shaka, and is a refurbished old theatre in Elephant and Castle. The change of venue came about due to the council being no longer willing to book live music events at the University Events Centre (the home of Shaka dances for the last ten years) following a recent speight of complaints from newly built residential homes in close proximity to the old venue.

Jah Shaka had set up his sound centre at the front of the floor with large stacks in each corner. Arriving at the venue by 11.30 the then sparse crowd steadily grew over the next few hours till a solid crowd filled the venue. I found it an excellent venue, with security tight but polite, friendly bar service, and good facilities.

As to be expected Jah Shaka played an outstanding selection, quite early running the vocal then the dub and often playing various dub plates of a tune while chanting and singing. Many of the versions and dubs were Shaka specials that got harder and heavier as the night progressed. It was a joy as always to hear Jah Shaka chanting and singing, even though he is renowned for his dubs and dub albums, a highlight was hearing him chant and sing some of the lyrics off his vocal albums (King's Music, Revelation Songs - essential to a roots collection) over heavy dub plates. Hearing him singing Revelation 18 over a version of the Blood Dunza riddim was fantastic, and another highlight was his special of Rastaman Camp.

As much as I may love the mad bass and power of Aba-Shaanti's sound, the rumble of King Earthquake that makes the my flesh reverberate when he runs the bass heavy, or the wicked energy you feel from Channel One sound system, for me as it says on the flyer, Jah Shaka is, Zulu Warrior, King of Sound System. You may not understand at your first Shaka dance, maybe not even your second or third, but no one has a collection of plates and tunes like Jah Shaka and at every dance he only scratches the surface of it. When he is on the mic he's powerful, spiritual and intense like no one else, he has dedicated his life and purpose to spread the teachings and message of Rastafari through roots rock reggae. He has played for the last 30 odd years non-stop, when roots was not the flavour of the month, and when only a handful of people would attend a dance. If you want to call yourself a sound system, this is the man who provides the example of what a sound system is all about. He is uncompromising, passionate and purposeful.


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