Photography by Mike Eccleshall
Dreadzone concluded their epic 27-date Eye On The Horizon winter tour this weekend, and I was there to catch their Scala show on Wednesday 8th. Frontman MC Spee might have been worried that a midweek set in the capital might not be the extravaganza it should always be, but gets it spot on when asking the crowd “do you get the feeling that Wednesday night turned into Saturday night about half an hour ago?”; tonight was a knees up, a celebration of Dreadzone’s incredible 15+ year career that had Scala bouncing all night long.
They set the tone early with Love, Life and Unity, showing that the material on offer this evening will stretch across the full span of their career. Ever eclectic, ever full of life and energy, they blaze through a spell-binding set encompassing every influence, every corner of Dreadzone’s sound. And though the crowd is a mix of both young and old (indeed, MC Spee took a particular shine to a young girl whose 21st birthday it was), everybody was onboard tonight, showing that Dreadzone’s ability to cross generations and cultures is absolute and has never waned.
Neither has their talent for a live show. A flawless performance shows that new tracks like Gangster are seamless additions to their catalogue and capture the energy of a Dreadzone show just as well as classics such as Iron Shirts and Tomorrow Never Comes. Showing all the tricks of the trade, they even rewind their main-set closer Little Britain, proving a particular highlight for a set that never lulled, never stopped bouncing.
MC Spee is constantly animated, despite the use of a crutch after the years taking toll on his knees and back. His charm, though, his sense of humour and liveliness keep a crowd engaged and doing all the bouncing for him. His ability to cross boundaries and induce a sense of fun in everyone in the room is as important to Dreadzone as the talent and taughtness of the band behind him. In a cynical world, a band like Dreadzone, one that is able to induce a sense of solidarity through a jolly good knees up, are just as fresh and just as necessary as when they started 15 years ago. Here’s to another 15 years.