The Selecter

Supported by The Vermin Suicides
Eric’s, Mathew Street
31st March 2012

Music review by Sue Hunter

We arrived at 8 and the club was already busy. I missed the original Eric’s, but this one has all the ingredients of a good club – a crowded sweaty cellar with friendly punters and a reasonably-priced bar.

The Vermin Suicides kicked off with some thumping chunky rock, carried on with country blues, followed by punky rap, then back to solid rock. This band has lots of attitude and rapport with their fans. Frontmen Paul Robinson and Anton Le Verme are both fiery performers, powerfully backed by Alec Joyce and Tony Whitehead on bass and drums. They sang from their latest album and provided a great start to the evening.

Then the usual build-up of tension till The Selecter came on, welcomed by a roar from a clubful of followers. All 8 members burst forth with a perfect ska sound, full of energy and joy.

Pauline Black and Gaps Hendrickson, both superb performers with great warmth, have a symbiotic singing and skanking partnership. Behind them, keyboardist Greg Coulson danced like a demon while scorching up and down the keys. Winston Marche on drums held the whole structure together, aided by bass player The Emperor Mingus, whose deep rich notes laid down strong foundations for the whole sound. Anthony Harty was the flamboyant guitarist, leaping about while chunking out riffs. Neil Pyzer and Orlando la Rose provided sexy saxophone sounds, occasionally turning to flutes.

The audience was a great mix – lots of big bald blokes pogoing and yelling all the words: middle-aged couples nodding sedately, young women in glamorous dresses, others with amazing hair and outfits to put old-fashioned punks to shame.

The band played many old hits, including “Too much Pressure”, “They make me Mad” and Fuck Art, let’s Dance”. Also newer songs from recent album “Made in Britain”. Pauline sang “Back to Black” in a moving tribute to Amy Winehouse. The 2-hour long set built to a terrific climax with everyone singing “On my Radio”, band and audience dancing wildly together.

In comments between songs, Pauline slated the ConDem government’s attacks on poor people – “They’re Mad and they make me Mad!,” and, referring to how The Selecter and other 2 tone bands saw off the National Front in the early 80s, she asserted we cannot let the EDL gain ground nowadays.

The Selecter are back at a crucial time: the same problems of racism, unemployment and inequality are back in force. For me, the band’s strength lies in its high quality danceable music linked to firm political principles. As Emma Goldman said, “If I can’t dance, it’s not my Revolution!”

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