As some folk will already be aware, Dreadzone were originally formed by Big Audio Dynamite’s band members drummer Greg Roberts, Dan Donovan and Don Letts in1993 and I got to hear about them when ‘Little Britain’ caught my ear all those many, many moons ago. They have had a few changes in the line up over the years, but are happy to be celebrating 20 years together with new album ‘Escapades’ which they were promoting tonight.
I make no bones about it, I absolutely love seeing these guys play live!! But I sadly admit it’s only the fourth time I’ve seen Dreadzone over the 20 years they’ve been established; once back in the mid-1990s, the Newcastle Carling Academy(2) as it was and after that there was the god-awful windy rainy North Shields Quay Festival, where you would expect little or no attendance, but I can tell you now if you’ve not witness the compelling and hypnotic power of this band, you’re sorely missing out!!
My first experience of Digital venue was downstairs where there’s the bigger stage set-up, but we were upstairs tonight – very compact, intimate and bijou with floorboards guaranteed to take the strain of at least 150 bouncing bodies!
With just four red lights above the band didn’t exactly warrant a good vibe on initial viewing, but with Dreadzone, once on stage they have such a great rapport with the audience and you could easily close your eyes and lose yourself or sway/jump/hug nearest person to you, care of the deep pulsating bass and catchy choruses. It’s a brilliant atmosphere you will be enthralled and with ‘Love, Life and Unity’ being one of the opening songs and one of their oldest hits, everyone got right into the dance mood. The heavy reggae beat made the crowd just join in and waves of delight carried us and united the audience as you see from the photographs I took.
Stream ‘Fire In The Dark’
‘Gangster’ was a new one, as was ‘Rise Up’ and ‘Too Late’ – this song used a sampling of Department S’s ‘Is Vic There?’ Also keeping on board with contemporary global issues ‘Fire in the Dark’ – all three taking on deeper, darker and grittier sound.
Dreadzone have excellent stage presence; obvious ideal summer festival candidates, uniting all sorts of people whatever background, age, race or religion as I saw here and all other times. There was a fantastic cross-section of people in tonight’s audience and if you asked me if there was one band I insist you check out to uplift your spirits and warm your soul on an extremely cold North East winter’s night, it would indeed be, Dreadzone.. oh yes.. 9/10
Words & photos by Elaina Thompson