A little review, BMC this one is for you: Chronixx - Brixton Electric. 10/08/14
I hadn't seen anticipation levels this high for a visiting yard artist since Damien Marley traded rhymes with Nas on a sweltering July evening in Hammersmith four years ago. But this was 2014, this was Chronixx, this was 500 people queuing around the block at 7.30. Last time Chronixx came to London there was talk of tickets for the Scala in Kings Cross being oversold. Now, I wouldn't want to level that accusation at the Electric but the place was rammed, unfeasibly rammed; make it to the toilets and you might not make it back to your mates rammed.
Talking of rams, here he comes , Ram Jam Rodigan, ready with a musical history lesson to put this special night in context. Leaping around one minute, sitting next to the decks soaking it all up the next, flinging down dubplates from Tarrus Riley back to Barrington, Buju, and Stitchie; spinning classics from Slim Smith, Delroy Wilson, Dennis, Gregory and. . . Gyptian. He exited with Marley. Enter the new. . nah, you won't catch me saying that
, but the atmosphere in the Electric was shock-inducingly electric. .
Chronixx ran on from stage left doing scissor-kicks, and looking super cool in wooly rasta hat and crisp white shirt. He kicked off with a mean and moody bass-heavy 'Alpha and Omega', then Aint no giving up. Then. . . I can't quite remember, because it seemed to go flat. Suddenly his voice seemed too frail to reach the back of the venue; he wasn't able to hit the high notes; he was singing unfamiliar, softer material that sounded a bit weak and inappropriate. What was going on? We'd been told he had been stuck on a coach for five hours coming into London. Was he fatigued, overwhelmed? The crowd still lapped up every second though. There was a collective will for this to be something special, you could feel the huge goodwill towards the young man with massive expectations on his shoulders. But I wasn't quite feeling the music. . . yet. In a fleeting moment, I wondered, was this the Emperor's new clothes?
And then it all came together, he'd found his voice. Ah, boy, had he found his voice? Starting with a captivating 'Capture Land', Chronixx now commanded the stage and the mic. Had he had a big swig of Spirulina? 'Here comes Trouble' was immense, with snatches of Jesse Royale and Jah9's versions on the riddim, just like on the telly. And then he brought on Protoje-ay-ay for 'Who Knows' and. . . ah, boy, the place erupted - so much so you could hardly hear the tune at times.
All the tracks from the album were played, plus 'Smile Jamaica', 'Start a Fyah'… Have to big up the Zinc Fence Redemption Band here; once the show really kicked off, they were superb.
Rodigan popped back on, inviting us to agree that reggae history had been made this night in Brixton. Then Chronixx was back, delivering one of the highlights of the night, a stunning version of 'Warrior' segueing into 'Odd Ras' - urgent stuff, vital, innovative, tuff. He was freestyling lyrics now, even offering up snatches of Supercat, 'me a rude boy youth and me nah look back' (?). He ended on another high with Eternal Fire,and then it was all over, out into the relatively cool Brixton air to reflect.
Almost immediately I was accosted: 'I'm gonna tell you three quick jokes and if you like them, will you give me £1.80?' None were funny, two didn't even make sense, but I handed over something anyway. It was that kind of night.