The anticipation was high when Chronixx and the Zincfence Redemption Band flew into the UK in May 2017 for six dates as part of the UK Chronology tour. Performing to sell out crowds across North America with 45 dates in 60 days prior to landing in the UK and performing on the Jimmy Fallon Show for the second time in three years meant that there was quite a big buzz by the time I arrived in Manchester to soak up the performance with good friends Mike and Christine Lilley.
The excitement levels were high when we arrived into a buzzing venue at around 8pm on this warm Sunday evening when the legendary King Jammy’s took to the control tower with live mixing on the board as he entertained the crowds with some fine selections from his vast back catalogue of roots and dancehall playing classics from Half Pint, Earl Zero, Admiral Bailey, Cocoa Tea as well as touching into rhythms synonymous with his Jammy’s blue and white record label including ‘Sleng Teng’ and ‘Duck’.
Signal 8.45pm and the Zincfence Band coolly walked onto the stage of the O2 Ritz in Manchester to loud cheers and whistles as the near capacity crowd knew that their time had come. As the opening beats of ‘Alpha & Omega’ were being played, 24 year old Jamar McNaughton known to you and I as Chronixx walked onto the stage dressed in a light blue Adidas Spezial shirt and cream coloured trousers. A cream tam hat with the colours of Red, Green and Gold complemented his outfit.
From the opening bars, it was clear that Chronixx and his band had put in considerable time on rehearsals-the performance was tight throughout. Singing through some early hits including ‘Ain’t Giving Up’ and ‘They Don’t Know’ which the crowd almost sung word for word for him with Chronixx asking “Won’t you sing it one more time” as he walked across the stage with his hands raised up full of emotion.
A favourite of the ‘Queens’ or Empresses’ in the venue was ‘Somewhere’ which he sung almost acapella style to loud cheers announcing “Every woman is a queen, every woman is majestic, every woman is a goddess and I know that for a fact, we don’t joke about that” before leading into brand new single from the imminent Chronology album ‘Skanking Sweet’. It still amazes me that this fine young artist has yet to release his debut album which is scheduled for a worldwide release on July 7th 2017 given the wealth of material he is building up in his musical catalogue at such a young age.
No Chronixx show would be complete without a song he describes as a ‘gift from the Almighty’ and it sure was a crowd pleaser as the opening bars of Silly Walks Discotheque’s all conquering ‘Honey Pot’ came in for ‘Smile Jamaica’. Chronixx educated the masses by calling out “Manchester!, Manchester! This is our beautiful music called reggae music and if you look amongst yourself you will see people from all over this planet, we all look different, we talk different, we are from different places but there is this one thing that keeps bringing us together…the beautiful power of music…yeah” before leading into an extended sing a long with the crowd. A modern day tribute to the land of his birth Jamaica and also to be featured on the ‘Chronology’ album.
On the previous three of four times I have seen Chronixx the Zincfence Redemption Band live there have been times when the performances have been divided up into ‘segments’ however this one seemed to be different in that straight after ‘Smile Jamaica’ we went into the hard hitting ‘Capture Land’ taken from the ‘Dread & Terrible EP’.
Other new music from the highly anticipated debut album including dancehall flavoured ‘Likes’ and ‘Spanish Town Rocking’ which had a change of rhythm part way through going into the ‘Peanut Vendor/Unmetered Taxi’ with Chronixx singing verses from classics over this rhythm from Foxy Brown ‘Sorry’ as well as singing one of the original blueprints of the rhythm “Some call it Spanish Town ah Prison Oval Rock” from Barrington Levy to loud cheers before going into a freestyle/toasting live like a real dancehall vibe and really showing his showmanship.
‘Likes’ blended seamlessly into ‘Spirulina’ and ‘Sell My Gun’ before ‘Roots Percussionist’ Hector Lewis joined Chronixx at the front of the stage for a showcase of the latest dance moves and both artists showed that they were able dancers. Hector himself has recently been signed to Tycoon Percussion.
Other crowd favourites including ‘Here Comes Trouble’, ‘Who Knows’ and ‘Majesty’ completed an excellent performance all round with the Zincfence Redemption band being particularly tight throughout the whole show.
There is no doubt that the future is looking positive not only for Chronixx and the Zincfence Redemption Band but for roots music in general because only days after completing the UK leg of the tour it was announced that Chronixx will be joining Nas and Lauryn Hill for a 17 date Autumn tour in the USA.