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Friday, 1 April 2011

Big Audio Dynamite - ABC - 30/3/11 (Glasgow)

In hindsight it's easy to see that Big Audio Dynamite were a band out of time, but they always would have been regardless of when they were formed.
They drew so many influences from the past, the present, and what they foreseen as the future, that they were musically rootless.
Or maybe it would be more accurate to say that they tore their influences out by the roots and took them on a very different journey into the future than was to be expected.
A definite precursor to a bands like the Gorillaz or Primal Scream who in my opinion can be found to be hanging from a branch of the same family tree.
This is why they sound as relevant now as they did in the mid eighties.
I'm not sure if that relevance has transferred into the here and now though as the crowd in the ABC is made up of the same sort of people who will jump on tickets for their stars of yesteryear regardless of how well the music has aged, and then there are the young Clash fans who all look like extras from a Rancid video.
I'm hopeful that they all take something positive from the performance.
The older fans a sense of the timeless quality that will urge them forward to discovering new aural joys, and the young Clash fans a nudge to work backwards to when BAD formed and then forward from that point listening to everything from Sly and the Family Stone to Ennio Morricone. Maybe with the expansion of their tastes giving them a deeper understanding of how inclusive punk should be.
Medicine Show as an icebreaker for the night works wonders, with Mick Jones looking relaxed and happy to be back in Glasgow. A city that has always warmly embraced him throughout his career.
He's got his shades on to hide a black eye, but apart from that minor injury he's looking well and up for enjoying himself. Pretty much indefatigable throughout.
Don Letts is the vampire dread of course. The man doesn't age and when he takes the mic there's not a creak to the old bones to be heard. He must be feasting on ganja sodden virgins to keep the ageing process at bay.
Leo Williams looks every inch the elder statesman of the bass with his dreads whipping the air as he lays down the heavy “riddums”, while Dan Donovan looks more relaxed than I had expected behind the keyboards. I'm not sure why, but I have this impression in my head that he has done nothing since BAD - although that may well not be the case - and he has been thrown back into the limelight with little warning.
For all I know he has continued playing week in and week out with everyone and anybody for years, but I quite like to think of him as someone comfortably coming out of retirement and showing the young guns how it should be done.
Greg Roberts, apart from being a founder member of BAD is also the guy who kick started Dreadzone. So he was as rock solid as to be expected. Offering a fine beat that everyone else in the band can rally around.
Everything fell into place as expected.
Some may point to little bits where the band were a little ramshackle, but has there ever been a gig anywhere that no one has missed a beat, hadn't had a tech issue or played a bum note?
I doubt it and to expect BAD to deliver at that level when very few others are expected to seems to miss the point a bit.
This is live music in all it's glory.
A little into the set and the country influenced Battle of all Saints Road reminds us why BAD refused to be pigeon holed then and still perversely manage to be the square peg in a round hole.
C'mon every beatbox sounds charged. Full of spitting and spluttering electricity,
Just play music encourages people who wouldn't normally run for a bus to break out some moves and try out some aerobic action that would shame a drunk uncle at a wedding.
It's all good fun though.
By the time the first encore rolls around of E=MC2 and The Bottom Line some people must be wondering if indulging in a second wind would be too hazardous for their health before thinking fuck it, at least if I die it will be with a smile on my face and going for the burn.
The finale encore was a surprise to me as I didn't even think that “Rush” would be a track that the band would have had a stab at due to it not being a song that the original line up had much to do with.
I'm glad they did though as it's one of my favourite BAD II songs.
It also went a long way to showing people that there's a lack of ego involved in the band.
Money aside this is a band of mates getting together to play the songs they have a tie to.
For me the perfect ending to the night.


  1. Thanks for that, enjoyed your review. I hope that maybe more people will (as you mentioned) realise just how far ahead of their time B.A.D. were - sounds like a great show.

    Cheers -

  2. Thanks Tim. If you get the chance to catch them live then I would recommend doing so. Age doesn't seeem to have had much of an impact on them at all.