Steel Pulse at Manchester University - gig review

Alan Entwistle in Record Mirror

3 January 1981

Roots music, cultual rhythm, listen, sing, dance, but most of all smile.

Outside there's a nocturnal monochrome world, dark and rainy, whilst inside, in a packed Students' Union hall, people are being happy, dancing to the Rasta rhythms of Steel Pulse. They can ignore the night now; they're in a trafficlight world of true reggae. Red, gold, gold and green make them forget routine.

For these are the colours of Rastafari, not just a part of fashion. Red is for the blood of past slaves, gold is for sunlight, and green for Nature. And these also happen to be represented in the lights that occasionally flood a stage of inspiring musicians. Steel Pulse make excellent reggae music, and tonight they're able to play in a perfect, easy atmosphere.

And although a political inclination can often be felt in their songs, such as in Drug Squad or the timeless Ku Klux Klan, Steel Pulse never dwell on this fear aspect for too long. As they play a selection of songs from their three albums, Handsworth Revolution, Tribute To The Martyrs and Caught You, they show just how light-hearted and entertaining they can be. And at the same time they provide an off-beat, sometimes weird alternative to the usual daytime disco.

Soulful keyboard jaunts and clever rhythm guitar work are brought out strongly by an array of varied percussion, creating a colourful, pulsing beat to enhance some of the finest vocal harmonies to be heard among modern reggae muzak. And the young people of Manchester tonight discovered dance.

Steel Pulse could well survive for ever. They're a valid institution.

Text copyright Record Mirror 1981, used without permission.

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