Easy Star All-Stars are an interesting band. Having formed in 2003, they have since released three albums, all of which are reggae/dub versions of classic albums. Dub Side Of The Moon (2003) is an exceptional take on Pink Floyd's classic; Radiodread (2006) took OK Computer as its inspiration and provides moments of greatness too. Easy Star's Lonely Hearts Dub Band has just been released, and tonight, the band showcased some Beatles covers from this new album.
The All-Stars began their set with a few of their own tracks, all of which sounded accomplished and exciting. Then they moved on to tracks from their new album. Their versions of 'Sgt. Pepper' and 'With A Little Help From My Friends' received a rave response from the inviting crowd, but musically fell a little short in the quality expected from these great musicians.
'Paranoid Android' and 'Airbag', both '90s rock classics, are impossible to improve upon but The All-Stars provided memorable versions of these Radiohead songs which brimmed with character and energy.
The quality of the sound which emanated from the group tonight was second to none, but their material is of such a high standard that it would be difficult not to sound good. The Pink Floyd covers worked best, with 'Breathe' and 'Money' highlights of the set. The Radiohead covers were massive crowd-pleasers, and rightly so because they allowed the band to show off their bundles of talent and energy.
However, the new Beatles tracks fell short of the mark and were often a little embarrassing. For example, the singalong to 'When I'm 64' would surely have had reggae enthusiasts tearing out their dreadlocks with mortification.
Easy Star All-Stars are at their best when they are jamming amongst themselves in an atmospheric, low-key reggae tone. Their own material shone through tonight, but there were some great covers of classic songs too. Leaving this gig, one felt that the All-Stars need to stand on their own feet now. They have established themselves as an effective reggae band, but now they need to build on their initial success and progress into a band which can create as well as replicate.