Wembley Park tube station is a pretty weird place. It’s designed solely for hordes of football fans going to the stadium, so you feel eerily small when its deserted – cavernous walkways, loooong empty roads past empty carparks. Quiet.
We arrived at the venue about midnight, and joined the small queue. A sign on the corner of the building advertised “blue eyes gentlemans club” with a picture of blonde – strikingly incongruous on all sorts of levels.
The Silverspoon is apparently best known as a rollerdisco, which had a few people remarking on the precedent set by Skateland in JA. The main room was long, with a fairly low ceiling (i.e. not a cathedral like some venues) and a lovely wooden floor. The floor was a great transmitter for the bass…
And bass there was. It has been five years since I last saw Jah Shaka in session, a shocking omission on my part. In that time the cult of Shaka has continued to grow, the sniping only surpassed by the fetishistic chasing of any tune that has touched down on his garrard deck.
Tonight’s crowd seemed a world away from that – they’d simply come to witness the man doing what he does best, laying down amazing heartfelt hard roots tunes and creating an atmosphere from them that nobody else can. As usual I only picked out a handful of selections (notably the recent Kunte Kinte cuts on Mad Professor’s Ariwa label). Part of that is because Shaka throws down a load of tunes nobody else seems to be able to get, part of it is because they all sound different on his sound with the bass vibrating your feet and the rest lost in a sea of echo, sirens and overdriven chaos. I like that aspect of it and am more than happy to let Shaka take control without me backseat driving or trying to trainspot.
Maybe these sessions will become even more special as he gets older – his signature tunes are beyond stupidly expensive, so it really has to be about attending the event as a one off experience, not trying to chase it through vinyl acquisitions. Which really is how it should be – much better than onanistically googling and ebaying…
The sound got even better as the valves warmed up and if you looked hard you could see past the hordes and make out the man himself, skanking out, hands in the air.
Shaka’s son Malachi was present, the next generation waiting in the wings – looking strikingly like his dad, but wearing a Dolce and Gabbana t-shirt as if to remind us old farts that the times they are a changing. Fair play to him, too – he seems to have his head screwed on by all accounts.
What was better this time was the social side – bumping into people, having a chat in the ante room. I liked the visuals as well – some large screens showing footage, logos, slogans, etc. What wasn’t as good this time was a loud crackling every time Shaka tried to get on the mic, so no words of wisdom from the sage of dub tonight, just vinyl, dubplates, siren. People going mad, or just swaying – eyes closed. For all the talk of how great it was 10 years ago, 20 years ago, this was a session people will be talking about from now on…
The lights went on at about 5:45 (or was it 6:45, 4:45? The shift to British Summertime was very disorientating, but I think we were conned out of an hour.)
Photo courtesy of Dubaholic on B&F board.
We shuffled out to see 3 or 4 cops cars arriving, two policeman walking towards the door. No re-enactments of the final scene in Babylon tonight tho. Times have changed, but Jah Shaka is still as relevant and vital as ever.