EASY STAR ALL STARS & Cas Haley
Sub 89, Reading, 28/10/10
Let’s start this one with a riddle: - What’s the link between Paris TX, Cambridge, Oxford, Liverpool and New York? Well, had you been in Reading this Thursday night you would have felt the connection between these 5 cities.
First, Cas Haley opened for the main band. He is a newcomer on the scene and his acoustic set of 3 songs was a delight to our ears, a warm and clear yet slightly raspy voice which kept us wanting more and took us through familiar Texan territory: Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown meets Patsy Cline. Then, in came the Easy Star All Stars rhythm section with added trombone and keyboards, producing a solid groove layered with strong melodies; a crossover of 70’s West Coast soft rock and reggae that was really quite intoxicating. It was far too short a set though. Cas Haley is definitely a name to look out for in the future!
Back to the connections! The band the audience came to see: The Easy Star All Stars from NYC. First, a musical chaos out of which emerged some of their own material from the 2008 EP “Until That Day”, a rounded sound full of energy, driven by the drummer Cliff Simpson’s mighty pulse and Ras I Ray’s authoritative & definitive dub bass. The rest of the evening was dedicated to the Pink Floyd, Beatles and Radiohead covers which ESAS are famous for. With strong vocals by Kirsty Rock, sparkling DJ toasting by Meny More and help from a young audience who knew all the lyrics, the evening reached various climaxes on Money, dubber than ever, When I’m 64 - ska stylee, a trip-hoppy Lucky, Cas’ vocals on his own song: Better Remix, and some mind-boggling musical acrobatics from the flute and trombone players. After all this, it dissolved back into cacophonous chaos with the audience roaring and begging for more, followed by a breathtaking and elongated cover of Karma Police as an encore, with pyromanic solos by Elena Canley and Shelton Garner, Jr. Throughout the evening, spectacular dub effects were expertly controlled by the sound engineer.
Have you got all the connections now? A thoroughly entertaining evening and the best version of Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band I’ve heard since the late 60’s!