The Black Seeds: On to a Good Groove.Joseph Hoye
11 Aug 2010
Barnaby Weir REVIEW: There are some Sunday nights when all you want is supper and a chance to go to bed early. The Black Seeds dashed that hope on August 10. Playing live at the HMV Forum in Kentish Town, the ‘Seeds harvested their crop of upbeat reggae and funk tunes in front of a very enthusiastic crowd of fans.
Watching The Black Seeds live, it becomes obvious that there are no Flash Harries in the band. Rather, every member has a job to do and enjoys doing it. Barnaby Weir is the frontman but has an incredibly laid back approach to the role on stage that it comes as a surprise when he does speak, although that may be a result of the last concert in a long American and European tour. It may have been the last gig but the ‘Seeds still gave an impressive performance.
If asked why the Black Seeds are so good, four factors come to the fore. First is the fat sound of the horn section. Jabin Ward and Andrew Christiansen add a vibrancy on saxophone and trumpet respectively that samplers or keyboards can’t replicate. And they obviously enjoy what they do.
Second is the voices of vocalists Barnaby Weir and Daniel Weetman. They sound like two blokes should, not like the all too familiar screeches of pre-teen eunuchs. Weir in particular has a sweet, soulful voice and an ease with its use that encourages punters to sing along and was particularly engaging during 'Turn It Around', injecting a sense of warmth and honesty into the lyrics that other performers just don’t have. There were no flash vocal gymnastics on show, though Weetman did show that he has a great rock scream, as heard during his crowd echoed chants.
Third is the unstoppable groove of the Black Seeds’ rhythms. Categorised as a reggae band, that label is somewhat of a misnomer. Reggae rhythms certainly underpin most of the music and get the audience moving on the dance floor but there is as much rock and funk being thrown down as there is a reggae influence.
And fourth is that the lyrics have made their way into the great Kiwi Songbook. 'Fire', from the 'On The Sun' album was a good case in point. The foot stomping funk laid down by the ‘Seeds captured the audience so that those first few words “Fire… Burning… Out there…” came from a thousand pairs of funkified lips.
The gig was ably supported by the Easy Star All Stars. Their hard-core reggae take on The Beatles, Pink Floyd and Radiohead was a crowd pleaser, quickly drawing the crowd away from the bar and onto the dance floor in preparation for the main act.
The only off-note from the concert was that The Black Seeds could have played for a lot longer. They certainly have the songs to do a two hour plus show but only remained on-stage for 90 minutes – the same as the support act. Still, if you leave the audience clamouring for more , then you know you’re on to a good groove.
The Black Seeds. HMV Forum, Kentish Town, London. 8/08/2010.
Reviewed by Joseph Hoye
I pretty much agree with this review! As good as they were, I was also surpised Easy Star All-Stars were on stage for so long as support acts are usually much shorter. I could have watched The Black Seeds perform for hours.