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Slackers - Minerva, Southend, 10/5/2003

  by Julia Willis

published: 15 / 5 / 2003

Slackers - Minerva, Southend, 10/5/2003


Playing in the world's most dismal toilet venue, and against a crowd of skinhead thugs, New York reggae seven piece the Slackers manage to transcend the grim circumstances, and to play "quite honestly the greatest gig" that Julia Willis has ever seen

Imagine a parallel universe, where the obligatory tour venue rite-of-passage, the toilet circuit as it’s affectionately known, had its own junior toilet circuit, places more dismal than the world has ever known; through which the roughest shards of young raw talent are forcibly sandblasted into barely plausible rock outfits, so that they might rise through the ranks to heady excesses of the premier toilet circuit league. If this were so, Southend’s Minerva would be the first stop for your dad’s estate car, stuffed to the gunnels with kit on a Saturday afternoon, an alternative to hanging out at local fast food eateries with a fag and a scowl. All this to portray my utter horror that New York’s finest, the Slackers, a roots reggae seven-piece replete with sax and brass of indescribable talent should be playing a venue where the twelve year old acne-ridden promoter who “don’t do guest list as I can’t pay the band yet” let us in free anyway because he was tending to his pubescent impulses, salivating over a nubile teenager at the bar. The Minerva, if the world needed an enema, this is where they’d put the tube. The lights have one setting: on, and the sound system relies on small overworked elves with magic dust. But none of this, not even the comic B-movie rent-a-crowd consisting of skinhead nazis, skeletal goths and mohawk-sprouting punks could spoil the collective atmosphere of radiant euphoria (I kid you not) at quite honestly the greatest gig any of us have seen to date, minus of course, a guitar-touting nun. The bizarre crowd absolutely worshipped the Slackers who mellowed an inebriated Minerva on the verge of kicking-off, to a cotton-wool cocoon-like state of blissed-out head bobbing to the beat. All, that is, except for one lively fascist who hurled a bottle into the stage, at which point the trombone player offered to kick-his-fucking-head-in and the trumpet player segued seamlessly into announcing the special appearance of Susan Cadogan. The Slackers are huge fans of the legendary rock-reggae singer who phenomenally calmed the antsy nazi and restored love and peace to the troubled throng. A hard act to follow, topped only by the appearance onstage of Glen Adams of the Upsetters. Two of the Slackers favourite artists soon became the crowd’s, turning the Minerva into the venue for a reggae supergig. Any music that coaxes dancing nazis to bond lovingly with the collective in celebration of black roots reggae is Irie by me. Two encores, several pints and a few jazz-fags later, The Slackers transcended the obviously accidental toilet venue to achieve what musicians these days can only dream of-the truly inspired. The photographs that accompany this article were taken by Matthew Williams

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Slackers - Minerva, Southend, 10/5/2003

Slackers - Minerva, Southend, 10/5/2003

Slackers - Minerva, Southend, 10/5/2003

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