Steeling the show

Black Echoes front cover by Alex Skorecki

22 July 1978

Front cover of Black Echoes - July 1978. Pictured is David Hinds.

Steel Pulse on tour with Bob Marley and The Wailers: Rotterdam, 7:7:78.

For Marley this latest European tour is no big deal but to Steel Pulse the exposure could make all the difference to their fortunes. Everything seems to be coming together for them at the moment. This concert came the night after their Top Of The Pops debut, an experience which must be traumatic for most bands. There's the triumph of knowing that a million people are watching your act, but soured considerably by the triteness of the programme.

The Marley tour must hold mixed blessings for them too. Their name is being pasted up around Europe alongside the superstar household names of Bob Marley and The Wailers. But being a support band carries the stigma of being in some way smaller and less noteworthy. That sort of reputation can stick to a band and dog their success. Steel Pulse are quickly becoming the best known British Reggae band, and they produce a sound that is very definitely of a different quality to Jamaican Reggae. It's not as hard; the drums and bass are less sharp than the JA product. To criticise it as inferior is an uncalled for value judgement. It's a music coming from an English ghetto rather than a Jamaican one, with all the different influences that implies.

Their set at Rotterdam was a shorter but more co-ordinated version of their Stafford performance. As before they led off with Prodigal Son, their new single, followed by Soldiers and Bad Man with a well executed lead guitar break from Basil Gabbidon. Sound Check led straight into Ku Klux Klan, done this time without the visually impressive Klan masks that have become a hallmark of their act. By the time they were finishing off with Makka Splaff (Calley Man) there were a whole throng of people up at the front but they were hardly invading the stage. Whether the Dutch don't dance or whether they were just unsure of what sort of movement to make to Reggae music, I don't know, but certainly their applause was vocal enough.

It would be absurd to review a Marley concert without mentioning the man himself, and as ever he was the star of his own show, despite Junior Marvin's attempt to upstage him with his Chuck Berry impersonations. If anything this Wailers' set was even more inclusive than Bingley - just about every number you can want them to do. My favourites were still Concrete Jungle and a very powerful and extended version of Exodus which finished off their encore set. Whatever you think Reggae should be like, we would hardly be aware of its existence if it hadn't been for Marley. He is the roots, and still one of Rock music's most electrifying performers.

Steel Pulse on the front cover of Black Echoes July 1978.

Text copyright Black Echoes 1978, used without permission.

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