Sunday 11th November 2018 is a night which will go down in musical history as the date when two young reggae lions rode into town and literally became the Kings of Alexandra Palace or Ally Pally to give it the name stuck in the hearts of Londoners.
By DJ 745, WorldAReggae
Ally Pally is an iconic grade II listed building in North London enriched in history which opened in 1873 and has survived two fires and is the site of the world’s first regular high-definition public television broadcast from the BBC studios in 1936. It has also been the home to some iconic concerts from the likes of Jay-Z, The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin. Now in 2018, Chronixx and Protoje can safely assume that their names will go down in history after a show stopping performance to a sell out capacity crowd of 10,000 reggae music lovers.
Let’s put this into perspective; when was the last time the UK had a reggae concert of this magnitude? The concert was completely sold out at least a month before as tickets were snapped up by fans across the UK for the only UK show eager to see Chronixx and Protoje perform together on the same stage with their respective bands for the first time. (The only time they have performed together in the UK was in Brixton in August 2014 when Protoje came on as an unannounced guest during Chronixx’s performance of ‘Who Knows’ to a capacity crowd).
The most eager fans began queuing at 4pm on Sunday afternoon to ensure they got a vantage spot in the crowd and by around 5pm the queue was already going around the side of the venue with patrons eager to get inside as soon as the doors opened. The red ‘Chronixx’ London Bus ferried crowds up to the top of the hill from the station which added to the buzz of the weekend.
Once inside the venue, musical entertainment provided by local reggae DJ/ Presenter ‘Sir’ Allan Brando went down a treat with fine musical selections from reggae greats including Dennis Brown, John Holt, Bob Marley, Sizzla and Jah Cure but the biggest cheer came for UK’s Gappy Ranks ‘Heaven in her Eyes’ as he continues to recuperate after a recent stroke.
8pm came and showtime! The Indiggnation Band were ready as they were welcomed on stage by a sea of cheers and smartphones ready to capture a small piece of history against a visual backdrop of the Lion of Judah with the Rasta flag flying proud! Dressed in matching red trousers and jacket Protoje rode onto stage to open his one hour set with I and I and Flames (with the vocals of Chronixx) almost as if he was in lyrical warfare with fast paced lyrics and rhymes as he enthused the crowd further with “Hands up to the sky like this right now, Up Up Up”.
A trio of songs from his last album project ‘Ancient Future’ started with Protection featuring the background vocals of Mortimer with Protoje announcing “This one goes to all clean hearted people in London if yuh come to have a good night say yeah!” before moving into Criminal with a great guitar solo at the end. “Are yuh on the side of love tonight? Different style yeah if yuh with me tonight two hands like this, watch me watch me” The evergreen rhythm known as ‘Gunshot’ came in for Sudden Flight which also was the cue to welcome songstress Sevana on stage with Protoje filling in Jesse Royal’s part to huge cheers.
Protoje then proceeded to introduce a song currently being championed by BBC Radio 1 Like This from his latest album ‘A Matter of Time’ with the crowd joining in after a quick lesson from the man himself with a very catchy hook. “I’ve been coming here since 2013/14 big up David Rodigan who brought me here for the first time”
Rasta Love merged into a tribute to the Gargamel with Champion to huge cheers again as Protoje asked “If yuh want to see Buju perform in London give me some signal” led to the biggest roar Ally Pally has probably witnessed this year before moving into Bout Noon!
At 8.45pm, West London collective WSTRN were introduced for Ben Ova again to huge cheers. Protoje was keeping the Jamaica –UK ties well bound together and it was becoming a show full of surprises as people around me were in awe of what they were witnessing!
“This one is crucial, crucial times, crucial messages, mi want to see all Jamaican hands up in the air like this” as the dark and haunting beats of Blood Money came in for a scathing attack on the Jamaican political system backed by some stunning yet realistic visuals depicting the realisms of political corruption.
Hail Rastafari blended into echoes of Black Uhuru’s I Love King Selassie before he closed with a stunning Kingston Be Wise with a rhythm or ‘sound’ firmly cemented in Protoje’s heart from the early 1980’s. A solid performance from Protoje and the Indiggnation Band given that they are amidst a 15 show tour in just as many days.
More musical niceness followed from Allan Brando including two lovers rock classics from Louisa Marks and Janet Kay before the Zincfence Redemption Band came onstage to a rapturous intro and an even bigger sea of smart phones at the ready to witness 26 year old Jamar Mcnaughton bounce onto stage skanking to the riddim before crying out “Rastafari, wi deh ya, wi deh ya, wi deh ya” against a striking backdrop of the sun rising up before launching into show opener Alpha & Omega and ably supported by his backing chorus of 10,000 reggae music fans.
Crowd favourites Roots and Chalice, Ain’t No Giving In and They Don’t Know followed before going into the segment of the show which is ‘Chronology’. Studio One rhythm aficionados instantly recognised Majesty as sharing the same rhythm as Otis Gayle’s I’ll Be Around and Johnny Osbourne’s We Need Love as Chronixx asked “Do you love reggae music? Do you love reggae music” No prizes for guessing what the response was!
Skanking Sweet was up next as the energy seemed to grow song by song as the crowd could feel the vibes and the messages of love Chronixx brought as they sang word for word as Chronixx had a beaming smile on his face of sheer happiness before the crowd went into a frenzy for Black Is Beautiful and an energised I Can with thousands of hands waving from side to side to the beat.
No Chronixx show would be complete without Smile Jamaica which Chronixx has always described as ‘a gift from the Almighty’ as he wooed the crowd with ‘Ooh I met a girl this morning’
From Smile Jamaica we went into the ‘ deeper roots’ with Chronixx announcing “Political parties are colonial and don’t wanna change for the youths, Hands in the air for the youths of Jamaica” before launching into Capture Land with a huge cheer against the Queen of England against a huge flag of Jamaica as a backdrop!
Ghetto Paradise followed before going into the 80’s dancehall rhythm ‘Prison Oval Rock’ for Spanish Town Rocking as Roots Percussionist Hector Lewis could be seen eagerly bouncing on stage and then 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.
News Carrying Dread transitioned into Tenement Yard ‘Oh Dread’ before Chronixx said “We introducing from Spanish Town Jamaica the Original Koffee and Chronicle, step through, a lot of people said no good can come from Spanish Town but we don’t listen to people we listen to His Majesty” as the beat underpinning one of the most versioned rhythms in the history of Jamaican music Real Rock played in fine fashion by the band as 18 year old Koffee raced on stage with her fast paced lyrics of Raggamuffin and Burning which she introduced as her first ever single and spoke of the support of Chronixx in bringing her forwards. Chronicle came up next with My God and some great musical interplay between father and son! History again in Ally Pally.
A quick band change as Chronixx gave an acapella of No Guarantee as the Indiggnation Band lined up as Protoje rode back onto stage for the grand finale of Who Knows as Protoje went into a dancehall style mode urging the crowds to wave their hands up as Chronixx asked “Do you want some more reggae music?” before running through Here Comes Trouble and Jah 9’s Reverence and a shortened version of dancehall smash Likes before closing the show with Legend.
The emotions and smiles on the faces of patrons around me confirmed a thought that went through my own mind- what we had witnessed on this Sunday evening was sheer poetry and had brought delight into the lives of the huge, yet diverse crowd all blessed by the powers of reggae music. This is one night that will be remembered for years to come and will go down in history as the night that the youths of Jamaica set ablaze North London!