Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player




A Feature by Mary Couzens for EXTRA! EXTRA!




Represent Series


Toots and the Maytals



Janice Graham Band

The Heatwave


100 Club

8 Aug 2012




Converse, the hi and low top sneakers famously favoured by seminal rock groups, most notably, the Ramones, thankfully, formed collaborative links with London’s landmark, formerly struggling 100 Club, ‘the longest running popular music venue in the world,’ (since 1942) last year. From July 30 though August 10, they’ve been hosting a series of free, ticketed shows, ‘inviting fans and artists to represent their music and celebrate musical diversity’. The multi-faceted Represent series is available to global music fans through live stream via the Converse facebook page. In the former home of legendary late ‘70’s gigs by the Sex Pistols and Clash, it seems a hangover from the club’s punk daze remains. At this gig starring ever popular Jamacian hit makers Toots and the Maytals, the kicking, flailing, thrashing faction of the mostly young audience threatened to turn the place into a working mosh pit! Still, as those announcing the show repeatedly said, ‘we were lucky’ to be at this show! There’s no disputing that!

In the queue, we spoke to a couple of enthusiastic festival goers, also Toots fans, sharing generously offered wine. The pair, young, white and dread-locked, were photographed several times on our way in, and the girl, interviewed on camera. To similarly aged photographers, they no doubt, however youthful seemed atypical long term reggae fans. The reality may not be as photogenic.

Openers, promising Janice Graham Band from Manchester, are a group finding their way through experimentation. Some younger audience members knew and cheered their material, which shows shades of The Specials, Cypress Hill and several other groups from various eras and genres. At the moment, Janice is like four colourful balloons, floating in individual directions. Once their strings are linked to form their own unique sound, they’ll fly much higher as a band. ‘I Wanna Get Away With Murder,’ was the obvious hit from their largely well received set.

I don’t frequent the club-land of today, but two dueling white DJ’s and their dancing Jamaican motivator, with a rap drawn from ‘toasting’ (Jamaican rap which inspired hip-hop), aka The Heatwave, ‘the U.K.’s number one bashment sound’ seemed to bring it to me. Though none of them held a candle to original ‘70’s toaster/rap reggae artists like Ranking Trevor, originator of skanking and, 12 inch 45 records aka disco mix, among other things, whose untimely death in a traffic accident, aged fifty-two was sadly reported by news sources around the world the very day of this show. Ever under-estimated, Trevor’s contributions to both Jamaican and music in general were and are immeasurable. Whereas, here, the DJ’s continuous prattle and stopping and starting of songs, most Jamaican commercial hits through the years, as they screamed ‘Big it up’, and other seemingly, cliché phrases seemed sacrilegious to some fans trying to dance along, despite whooping youths more accustomed to such mixes. As if sensing the trepidation of some, we were offered free whistles, then, asked to blow them on cue en masse, carnival style.

Natty (and the Rebel Ship) from London served up tasty helpings of roots music, with African, dancehall, drum and bass, dub-step and other inflections flavouring their mix, and it’s the unexpected twists in their music that makes it so intriguing. Sending out positive messages, through material all their own, with narrative lyrics full of social awareness, or ‘real life’ as he puts it, Natty and his group are definitely on the rise in the world music firmament. I can just picture them igniting the crowd at WOMAD Charlton Park and hope to see them on one of the stages there in July 2013. Highlights of their 100 Club set were ‘The King Had a Dream’, about Martin Luther King, Jr. and ‘A New Day is on the Horizon’, which ended the set on an optimistic note. Personable and refreshing; Natty and his energetic mixed race group are as one onstage.. I’ve already signed up for Natty updates

Now to get to the topper, ever upbeat Toots, who never seems out of his element onstage or, interacting with an audience. Seeing reggae/ska giants Toots and the Maytals here, up close and personal, when I’d last seen them in the Barbican Hall from a distance among a multitude of adoring fans, was a dream! Who cares if the sound in the 100 Club has an overly loud legacy to live up to? What’s great music if it’s not played at top volume, especially funky Jamaican music? After hours spent packing ourselves in like proverbial sardines, fans pressing forward, the audience was ready to rock! And rock us Toots and the Maytals did, jumping in with ‘Pressure Drop,’ which generated an ecstatic reaction, as did favourites like ‘Monkey Man’, with its sing a long phase, ‘Ay, Ay, Ay,’ and ’54-46’ (That’s my number) launching into a high stepping ‘I say yeah’ chorus on the latter that nearly tore the roof off, with a few disco beats thrown in, just to keep the feet of all enthusiasts moving. As if we needed any encouraging!



Before the set began, one of Toot’s people asked that the stage lights be dropped down to half, not surprising as they’d already been beaming on the sweating audience for what seemed like ages. But the heat generated by this group upped the temperature in the room to a new high as the crowd furiously moved along, in an attempt to keep up with ever dancing Toots, who had his first hit record back in 1963! It’s not mentioned often enough, but Toots is also a fantastic soul singer, and there were times when his voice seemed to come from somewhere near his dancing feet! It always seems as though he’s got endless energy and though Toots is known to perform for over an hour and a half without stopping, giving his all, he shows no sign of slowing down when the crowd screams for more. There’s never a moment when he seems tired or bored, so songs always sound vibrant and fresh, tightly groove in hand band rolling along, beat by beat!

During the course of Toots’ highly spirited set, some overly enthusiastic boys in the centre of the crowd worked up their own wild-man festival of sorts, leaping with increasing expansiveness, despite the packed house, arms raised, and the effects of their formerly suppressed angst, impacted on those in front of them, eventually sent a line of dancing females in front of the stage sprawling over the monitors along its edge. Having been forced into a startled girl in front at this point, inadvertently knocking her down, while simultaneously grabbing the arm of a one beside me, in an attempt to break her fall, I decided I wasn’t designed for such dualistic stunts.

As I’d already been lucky enough to sing along to a long string of great bass bottomed, invigoratingly infectious songs, among them, ‘Take Me Home Country Roads…West Jamaica’ and, shake Toots hand, as he moved along, smiling and reaching out to his bouncing audience, I followed another sweat drenched woman to the back, of the crowd, partner behind me, where, in the intimate 100 Club we still had a great view of the stage. From there I continued to access Toots as he wove his own particular spell over the crowd. You don’t get a chance to watch true masters like him every day! I also watched some of the determined gits behind me finally make it to the stage in their own ways being promptly tossed off by aggravated bouncers. Proving?

We all have our own paths. Make sure yours takes you to the 100 Club – real soon!

Converse Represent at the 100 Club
100 Club
100 Oxford Street
London WID ILL
Converse Represent gigs at 100 Club:
Billboard’s excellent article on Ranking Trevor:




copyright (c) all rights reserved EXTRA! EXTRA! www.extraextra.org