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Easy Star All Stars - KOKO, London, 28/4/2009

  by Benjamin Howarth

published: 18 / 4 / 2009

Easy Star All Stars - KOKO, London, 28/4/2009


Reggae act Easy Star All Stars play covers of songs by bands such as the Beatles, Pink Floyd and Radiohead. Ben Howarth enjoys their show at the London KOKO, but finds it marred by some ramshackle and over-the-top encores

There was a time when I was a bit more inclined to experiment with my music tastes, and give almost anything a go - it’s the reason why I had various ambient, hip hop and even metal albums cluttering up my bedroom as a student. That kind of thing suits the student lifestyle - even when you have convinced yourself that you’re quite busy, there is, to be frank, an urgent need to find anything to do in order to fill up the day. But even then, I never really got on board with reggae. The problem, as is so often the case when one doesn’t like a certain type of music, is that I just couldn’t pick out the tunes. So, what was I doing at a reggae gig ? Well, lets be honest, here, this one comes attached to a pretty effective gimmick. The ‘Easy Star All Stars’ are just that, the key players from the label Easy Star and (although they have other acts to go back to) in this guise, they do covers of songs by the Beatles, Pink Floyd and Radiohead. And that’s why I’m here, because I like those bands. The covers work. They switch the singers round a bit, and there is a fairly wide variety of styles to deal with, but they hold it together nicely. Personally, I would take the Beatles over anything else - but its probably fair to say that it is their cover of Radiohead’s 'Paranoid Android' that goes down best with the crowd. This is a crowd which, like me, doesn’t look like reggae’s target audience, despite the odd fella with dreadlocks. So, the gig goes off course during the encores when they launch into a patience sapping 20 minute jam-session, complete with atonal solos from every member of the band. When the gig ends without another proper song, it does rather dampen the memory of the rest of the proceedings. This wasn’t a performance to make me think that I’ll be rushing out and seeking out vintage reggae vinyl any time soon. It was very enjoyable, though. I come back to the reason I don’t like most reggae, the fact that I can’t hear the tunes. When covering some of the finest material in pop’s rich history, this isn’t so much of a problem. It’s also fair to say that the All Stars have the talent and invention to make this more than a simple tribute show. I just wish they hadn’t spoiled the effect at the end.

Picture Gallery:-
Easy Star All Stars - KOKO, London, 28/4/2009

Easy Star All Stars - KOKO, London, 28/4/2009

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