Easy Star Allstars Live in East Village

Easy Star Allstars @ Stuyvesant Town Oval
Wednesday June 24, 2009

Whenever I inform the uninitiated about a reggae remake of Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon’, the reaction is usually a raised eyebrow of quizzical scepticism.

Easy Star All-Star’s 2003’s ‘Dub Side of the Moon’ was a bold concept, the Floyd Holy Grail spruced up for the naughties with horns, offbeats, Rastafarian toasting and enough reverb to sink a ship. Covers rarely match their source, but the 9 piece New York collective nailed it artfully and respectfully, with brilliant musicianship and authenticity, breathing fresh vibe into the masterpiece and receiving a worldwide cult following for their efforts.

The Easy Stars have since built on that early headway, releasing equally courageous projects, reimagining Radiohead’s ‘Ok Computer under the moniker ‘Radiodread’, and ‘Easy Star Lonely Hearts Club Band’, a reggaefied take on the Beatles classic. Interpreted, arranged and produced by guitarist Michael Goldwasser, the Easy Stars have continually balanced an appeal to both mainstream rock fans and hardcore reggae aficionados.

On Wednesday 24th, the Lonely Heart world tour made a generous hometown pit stop for a free outdoor gig at the Stuy Town oval to an embracing New York crowd.

It was a love-fuelled, appreciative family vibe from word go, the band barrelling across Dub Side with ‘Breathe’ and ‘Great Dub in the Sky’ receiving an early run, interspersed with moments of ‘Pepper’ and ‘With a Little Help From My Friends’.

Bursting onto stage, frontman Menny More pumped the energy levels skyward with his exuberant charisma, toastin’ big tunes to inclement skies, which, thankfully returned the love by holding off on the deluge. The crowd were soon lathered into a smooth skank, Bassist/Vocalist, archetypal dread Ras I Ray, soothing all with his effortless bottom end and resonant rasta croon in ‘Time’. Guitarist Shelton Garner shone with balance, doing both Dave Gilmour and John Lennon justice in ‘Money’ and ‘Day in the Life’, on axe and lead vox respectively.

Radiodread was given its share of air, Horns Jenny Hill and Buford O’Sullivan flourishing with lush synchronicity on ‘Paranoid Android’. Crowd favourites ‘Lucky’ and Karma Police also scored a run, commanded by the velvet vocals of Kirsty Rock, her bellow in ‘Great Gig in the Sky’ one of the night’s significantly stunning events.

Ever an admirer of the sonic perfection of the Easy Star studio sound, it was a thrill to find that their live nous was equally top notch. The borderline 2 hour performance covered the spectrum, electrifying and lullabying the appreciative hometown crowd, who in turn reciprocated with the love, feeling every bit a member of the extended Easy Star family.

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