Friday, 19 July 2013

New Music Friday - 'Catch A Fire'

This week’s New Music Friday is a bit different – it’s new music in old music. Last weekend we popped along to Royal Festival Hall at London’s Southbank Centre for ‘Catch a Fire’, a re-imagining of Bob Marley and the Wailers amazing album of the same name. Read on…


This sensational new orchestral interpretation of Bob Marley and the Wailers' groundbreaking and iconic album features Jazz Jamaica All Stars, the Urban Soul Orchestra, special guest Brinsley Forde (Aswad) and a 240-voice Voicelab choir.

Originally released in 1973, Catch A Fire announced the arrival of Jamaica's first global superstar, and this melodic, dynamic and heart-lifting musical tribute makes the flames burn even brighter.

Toured in 2012 to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Jamaican Independence, the show was a sell-out at Southbank Centre last October. The show is co-produced by Dune Music in association with Tomorrow's Warriors.
Photo and words credit - Southbank Centre

What we think.

‘Catch a Fire’ effortlessly reignited our love of reggae and of Bob Marley and Peter Tosh music. Jason Yarde’s stimulating arrangements completely captured the listeners' mind whilst keeping the essence of the songs present and strong. The vocals were faultless, Forde was the perfect person to take centre stage with his sweet, rustic tone and fantastic reggae delivery.

Favourite moments:

Catch a Fire – musically, it was the arrangement of this song that really blew our mind. The second song in their first set, it really set the tone for the rest of the show. Our favourite moment of the song (and a definite contender for favourite of the show) had to be when the piece literally caught on fire! Starting in the strings section of the Urban Soul Orchestra, a flurry of free improvisation took over, one player at a time, until the musical fire had spread to the whole ensemble. With the bass and drums keeping the original rhythm and bass melody and everyone else going crazy on top, the sound was truly amazing! This is the perfect example of Yarde’s creativity in integrating the name of the piece in the music, adding a new element, which perfectly fit in with the essence of the song.

Stir it up – With one of the most easily recognisable intros of Bob’s music, there was no doubt in the audience’s mind when the skank guitar came in. But nothing could beat the moment when the bass, or in this case the double bass, came in with that famous riff – the audience literally went crazy. Gary Crosby on the electric double bass was a total legend as he lyrically took us through all of the fantastic reggae bass riffs we've come to know so well. If you have never heard reggae bass played on a double bass (as we hadn't done until the show) then it is really a must! The resonance and extra dimension that the double bass brings to the melodies is a sound like no other and completely cemented our bass line obsession even more.

Overall, it was such a pleasure to be able to enjoy great music in a great venue and by amazing musicians. The contrast between ‘Catch a Fire’ and the concerts on the Southbank’s usual programme made it all the more fun. It almost felt like we'd broken in and were having a massive party, of course with dancing mandatory! Here’s hoping that it will be back again next year, so that more people can experience the magic that is ‘Catch a Fire.’

Did you make it down to the Southbank on Saturday? What do you think of this interpretation of Bob's music? Let us know by commenting below.

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