Live at O2 Academy Leeds on Thursday, 7th April 2011
I am a fan of The Clash. I am a fan of Dreadzone. I understand the legendary status of DJ Don Letts. Therefore who was I to turn down a trip to see B.A.D. (Big Audio Dynamite) play nearby on their first set of shows for nearly 14 years... So what if I was a child when they were about, I wasn't even born when The Clash did their thing...
Mick Jones heads up this band of extraordinary musical visionaries as they fuse punk, rock, reggae, hip hop and dance to great effect. The crowd is as varied as the music (although all middle-aged), and show the band that they have missed them over the years. Jones' punk swagger has been missing since The Clash days (his time with the Gorillaz doesn't really count), Don Letts jumps between sampler pusher and MC king during reggae tracks like 'A Party' and 'Battle of All Saints Road', whilst those more recognisable these days from the mighty Dreadzone (bassist Leo "E-Zee Kill" Williams, keyboardist Dan Donovan and drummer Greg Roberts) look to be really enjoying themselves, along with the crowd.
The set is short but full of hits from the band's career that spanned over a decade. Starting with 'Medicine Show', the place is full of rocking (plus somewhat merry) bodies swaying to songs like 'V. Thirteen', 'BAD', 'Bottom Line' and 'E=MC2'. The latter made up the first encore, then a very short interlude lead to final track 'Rush' and more dancing.
Everyone's in high spirits, and as a first timer to B.A.D. I thought they were nothing like their abbreviated name and in fact very good! Some say that the first shows on this tour were sloppy, but tonight the band are very tight indeed. And to those who say the songs are outdated... the samples may sound a little old fashioned but this is a reunion tour so changing them would ruin it, plus Lett says few new ones have been slipped in there too. In fact the lyrics of 'The Bottom Line' are as appropriate now as they were when released in 1986 ("A dance to the tune of economic decline "). This shows how little has changed in some aspects of the world, but when you look around at this crowd and at the great band on stage, you see that some things have changed and will not go back to the way they were for the better.
There are funny quotes and quips from the band, especially Jones and Letts, and some further align the tunes to today's similar predicaments (Jones dedicates the part Strummer penned 'V. Thirteen' to Col. Gaddafi (telling of the sin of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, but I like to joke that it's more probably likening the song title to his age)). I for one am now a fan.