Reggae music is alive and well in the UK

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by Howard Campbell

[LONDON] – UK PA coach and broadcaster David Rodigan, declares last week’s success reggae show at the Royal Festival Hall in London, it’s proof that music still has a solid footing in the UK.

The April 16 shows, which took place at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m., featured Horace Andy, Freddie McGregor and Bitty McLean, backed by the 25-piece Outlook Orchestra. It attracted a capacity of 2,700 spectators.

Freddie McGregor (right) and Bitty McLean backstage at the 16th April reggae show at the Royal Festival Hall in London.

“The show is proof that reggae music, in its traditional form, is alive and well in the UK because we had patrons coming from all over the country,” said Rodigan, who organized the concert for the third time.

Triumphant return

It was a triumphant return after a two-year absence due to Covid-19 lockdowns.

“We chose some of the artists we had worked with before at the Royal Albert Hall and at our first concert at the Royal Festival Hall in 2018, including Bitty McLean, Holly Cook, Kiko Bun and Horseman, who all performed classic songs from the Jamaican songbook, then Horace and Freddie performed their own repertoire,” he added.

Reggae Veterans

Andy and McGregor have had a presence in the UK since the 1970s and 1980s, when the black community included thousands of Jamaicans, many of whom owned record labels and stores and promoted shows.

Andy, 71, released his latest album, Midnight Rocker, in March. He had a major UK hit in 1978 with Natty Dread A weh She Want which he did with DJ Tappa Zukie. It was one of the songs he performed at the Royal Festival Hall.

McGregor, 65, had a strong run on the UK charts. Especially with songs like Big Ship, Push Come to Shove and Just Don’t Want to be Lonely.

German-born Rodigan’s illustrious career began with the British Broadcasting Corporation in 1978. He rose to international prominence in the 1980s as a disc jockey at Capital Radio in London. Plus, through a series of PA clashes with his Jamaican counterpart, Barrington “Barry G” Gordon.

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