HorsemanPositive Vibration @ District 30/3/18
Once again Positive Vibration have excelled in their quest to attract the cream of current reggae performers to the intimate confines of District. This time it’s the turn of the multi-talented HORSEMAN (Winston Williams) and, as an added bonus, he is backed by the Upper Cut Band – last seen here in September playing with Big Youth.
Horseman began his musical career as a drummer and over a 30-year period has played with the likes of Max Romeo, Gregory Isaacs and Sugar Minott before his prowess at the mic saw him develop into one of the UK’s finest MCs. It took him until 2014 to release his first solo album, Dawn Of The Dread (produced by Prince Fatty), but the critical response must have made the wait worthwhile. On the album Horseman eschews the rootsier feel for a studio-generated cleaner sound, but with the Upper Cut Band on hand we can expect a passionate, soulful sound tonight.
The band get into their groove from the first bar and the crowd are already moving as Horseman enters the stage, bespectacled, dreads tied back, and the spectacular trademark jewellery adorning his person. But this is no gangsta bling, and throughout the set Horseman sets out his stall between songs, leaving the audience in no doubt that his ‘clean reggae’ tag is not just about the music but about a way of living; respect not confrontation, cooperation not competition, “medication not aggravation.”
Horseman has a fluid, easy toasting style and an engaging manner which is almost in counterpoint to his physical delivery, which sees him hunched over, hand cupped to his ear, in concentrated outpourings or picking up a drumstick to add percussion as he raps out the message. His solo album is well represented; Ghetto takes an all-encompassing swipe at lifestyle choices, air pollution and poverty, The Yout’ is an optimistic hymn to the potential of a younger generation, and Computer is a techno-warning with a suitably stabbing electro introduction.
The heartbeat of the Upper Cut Band is once again the superb rhythm section of Bob Pearce (Drums) and Ross Erlam (Bass), equally adept anchoring the groove or taking centre stage with some exquisite soloing. Add on to this layers of choppy skank and soaring lead guitar, swirling keyboards and a brass section that punches and swings and it is little wonder that District is rocking to the rafters.
Stonking covers of Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s Shimmy Shimmy Ya and Cypress Hill’s Insane In The Brain bring the house down and bring Horseman a well-deserved encore. Great message, great music, great vibration.