The Abyssinians/Johnny Clarke with Mista Savona/ Iration Steppas/Kingfisha – Hifi Bar

There’s something about these AWME shows, where even early on there’s a palpable sense of energy in the air. Brisbane six-piece reggae outfit Kingfisha, really draw on the vibe of a crowd ready to party, delivering their brand of roots reggae from the golden years.

UK legends Iration Steppas, huffed and puffed and selected some of their own productions, mashing them and vocalising over the top. “Here’s a tune from my cousin,” offers Mark Iration, “it’s gonna be big,” before dropping her sweet take on Dawn Penn’s You Don’t Love Me No No No, name dropping the Iration Steppas in the lyrics. A little cheesy yes, but still a lot of fun.

Next up Jamaican vocalist Johnny Clarke, probably best known for his work with Bunny Lee. Here’s he’s supported by Mista Savona, and he looks incredible in some kind of safari suit and little hat. Age hasn’t weathered his vocals and he rips through some classics, waving his Jamaican coloured scarf in the air, lumbering around the stage, tunes like Roots Natty Roots and Every Knee Shall Bow. When he unfurls his African roots, taking off his hat revealing almost ankle length dreadlocks the crowd goes wild.

“Fasten your seatbelts,” we’re warned as The Abyssinians take to the stage to thunderous applause. Dressed in matching tracksuits, with their big white beards and beatific grins, they look amazing. And for old guys they know how to move, treating us to some incredible boxing moves, uppercuts, roundhouses and a few kicks. Whilst Wicked Men and Declaration of Rights are early highlights, they want to clarify something. “This is not Bob Marley music, this is Rastafarian music.”

There’s no denying what people have come to see. Almost immediately, with that signature slinky horn, the reception to their biggest hit, Satta Massagana, is deafening. They stretch it out, give it back to the crowd who sing some of the verses. They end with djembe, one of the vocalists sitting down and bashing away with wild abandon. You can’t fake the kind of joy etched on his face, and as he enters some kind ecstatic percussive nirvana the crowd seems to sense this and screams, and keeps screaming. Wow.

Bob Baker Fish

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