20 Jun 2018
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Gig Review: Ska Save The Queen @ The Thirsty Dog, Auckland - 03/06/2018

12 Jun 2018 // A review by Channel1
I grew up in Coventry in the UK. As a kid my first introduction to music was Two Tone the local record label that had Ska bands like The Specials, Selector, The Beat etc. I can remember getting my first Harrington Jacket and having Specials in bright red felt letters ironed onto the back. At the time I had never seen or heard them but everyone in Coventry had a Harrington with either their own name on the back (why would you do that?) or a band from the Two Tone Label.

In later years I ran a rehearsal studio in the city and got to know some of the musicians who were part of this scene. Sir Horace Gentleman (or H to his friends) still plays around the city and with the current line up of The Specials and used to rehearse with us. Roddy Radiation (Byers) who can now be found playing in The Ska Billy Rebels. It's part of my musical heritage so I just had to be there for this evening of New Zealand based Ska.

I arrived early as the event was sold out and parked myself in a corner of the room with a decent view not too far from the bar. There was a real buzz as a mixed crowd of stoners, dub heads, punks, skins and rude boys and girls settled in for a celebration of a day off here in NZ that my friends back in Blighty don't even get. Ska save the Queen indeed!

The room was full as openers Roofdog took to the stage. After a few technical issues, the band kicked in with a brand of high energy punk-infused Ska. Think Rancid meets The Drop Kick Murphys while necking whiskey and smoking weed. A mixture of speed and chill that was totally intoxicating. They are bringing something new to the genre and were the highlight of the night for me. Vocalist Jake has a great voice and laid-back punk style that is backed up by some great songs and musicianship from the rest of the band.

As they finish and the in-between DJ's spin some mellow vibes in advance of The Mighty Herbsmen taking to the stage I attempt to make my way to the bar but give up. This place is seriously rammed.

Obviously, with a name like theirs, The Mighty Herbsmen were going to bring a slightly mellower Ska reggae vibe that kept the party rolling. They were tighter around the edges than the punkier Roofdog but also mixed things up a bit continuing a theme of taking Ska and Reggae then adding their own twist of rum and coke to it. They smoothed out the lines, got people dancing and almost had a stoned showband vibe about them. Great musicians and a great vibe that was the perfect build to headliners Acetones.

I have seen these guys before and they are faultless. At this stage of the night the alcohol has kicked in and it's all systems go. How they fit the whole band onto this little stage and still manage to play is beyond me, so I close my eyes and just start to dance. After all that is what I remember about this music as a kid in Coventry growing up with Two Tone and Ska music. It makes you want to dance, transports you to another place. Acetones are the icing on the Queen's Birthday Cake dropping a bit of reality and escapism into the mix and are the perfect end to a night I will never forget.

See you next year (unless she pops her paid by the taxpayer's clogs)

★★★★ (4 stars)


Review written by Paul Goddard

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