It’s been a while since we’ve covered Dub Pistols. I think it was Boardmasters in Newquay where we last caught up with Barry Ashworth and his merry men as they headlined the Land of the Saints stage, since then, we’ve seen Barry DJ a couple of times at other West country festivals but never as the whole band so when I got a call to ask if I wanted to cover their Plymouth show at the start of December, I was all over it like a rash.
A lot had happened since the last time we met, their eighth studio album Crazy Diamonds had landed and I for one was interested to see how many of the new offerings would be showcased at tonight’s show.
As we arrived at The Hub in the heart of Plymouth, we were immediately welcomed into the dressing room by a very 'effervescent' Barry Ashworth, drinks were offered and we chatted to the rest of the band about the tour so far and how the new material had been going down with the fans, Barry commented, “They love it, you never really know how the new stuff’s gonna be received but at the end of the day, you’re at a Dub Pistols show, it’s one big party and everyone’s out to have a great time”. We left them to their pre-show rituals (group hugs etc) and took up positions in the main room for the opening act that were just about to take to the stage.
Kioko are a Birmingham based 8 piece reggae band, the horn section were amazing, really lively, the backline were kicking out some proper bone-rattling bass and tight percussion, throw into the mix a couple of guitars and you've got the making of a great band who bring the party to wherever they happen to be playing!
The brass section were having an absolute blast, one acted as an MC, cajoling the crowd into an almost frenzied state when not tooting his trumpet! Their songs were upbeat and addictive, some carried a political undertone and one track was all about ‘the jungle’ in Calais, proving that these guys were not just a one trick pony. They really were a strong act, solid musicians through and through and are a great way to warm the crowd ready for Dub Pistols to take over!
After a brief intermission to change the stage around, it was time for the main act of the evening, the room soon filled as the beat kicked up and the guitar started to play. On walked Barry and Seanie T to a huge reception and launched straight into “Never Never”, lifted from the new Crazy Diamonds album.
Other new material to make the set list this evening included “Boom” and “Rising” which went down an absolute storm with the Plymouth capacity crowd. Now, if you don't know, a Dub Pistols show IS a party, it’s a chance to get a few drinks down your neck and enjoy a night out on the town with Barry Ashworth and his crew providing the high velocity soundtrack that you just can’t help bobbing along to, hell, even I had a dance and that very rarely happens, I’m more the kind of person who stands at the side, nodding energetically but tonight, I decided I was going to get right on there and have a good old skank!
It was the age old favourites that kept the room on the boil throughout the evening, tracks such as “Real Gangsta”, “Gunshot” and their perfect renditions of cover versions such as The Stranglers’ “Peaches” and The Specials’ “Gangsters” proved that this bunch of hardy professionals knew their craft very well indeed as the night wore on.
The finale was a wonderfully extended version of “Mucky Weekend” with Barry and Seanie T inviting a “Birthday Girl” onto the stage (accompanied by a bunch of her mates) to sing out the final track in time honoured tradition, it was indeed a mucky weekend by the time the band’s final chords rang out around the room.
What I love about Dub Pistols is the fact that they’re so happy to engage with their fans after the show, they could retire back to the dressing room until the fans disperse but no, you’ll see Barry hugging everyone, posing for photos and generally doing everything he can to ensure that EVERYONE has a great time, I think this is what brings people back to their shows time and time again.
They may be 8 albums into their career but I can honestly say that Crazy Diamonds is a polished release that stands up well with the more classic material that they have produced over the years, if its yet to make it into your collection, do yourself a favour, click the link below and get it ordered, give it to yourself as an early Christmas gift, you won’t be disappointed and as Santa will have come early, you can treat yourself again nearer the big day!
The band are currently midway through their UK tour promoting Crazy Diamonds, if you’re in London on Thursday 7th December, you need to get yourself down to the Islington Academy where they’ll be joined by Kioko and Ragga Twins, believe me, you’ll think that the weekend, Christmas and New Year’s Eve have all arrived at the same time!
Review by Steve Muscutt
Photography by Julian Baird