Local Reggae band Makisi opened a highly-anticipated show with a solid 45-minute set of roots rockers, lover’s rock, and groovy ballads. The soulful baritone voiced lead singer and the well-rehearsed ensemble got the crowd dancing. A highlight was a nicely done cover of Third World’s “When Push Comes To Shove.” Their performance was spiked with quick transitions and segues in between tunes.
Steel Pulse came onstage to an already packed dance floor full of veteran, cheering fans. The eight piece band played the intro for the first song setting the mood for lead singer and songwriter David “Dread” Hinds to make a dramatic entrance on a fan favorite “Raid Blues Dance.” Fronting the band sans guitar, dancing and interacting with the audience and band, David got the energy up right off the bat.
Dread Hinds intermittently grabbed his guitar to skank thru a Steel Pulse aficionado’s wish list of tunes from a catalogue that goes back forty years. Classic songs “Your House,” “Ravers,” “King James Version,” “Roller Skates” and many others were flawlessly executed by the group with clever segues and dance hall “toasts” (Jamaican rapping) inserted into songs. Jerry “Saxman” Johnson quoted John Coltrane’s version of “My Favorite Things” during an extended solo on “Drug Squad”—which was a highlight of the instrumental prowess exhibited through the night. The first few lines of “Star Spangled Banner” served as a clever introduction to “Rally Round the Flag,” and the unison choreography on stage kept the positive energy escalating. David favored us with some top notch Blues harmonica playing on a cover of the Grateful Dead’s “Franklin’s Tower,” which he dedicated to the memory of Jerry Garcia—noteworthy because it was the anniversary of Garcia’s passing. They closed the show with “Stepping Out,” another fan favorite that included some call-and-response audience participation.
The crowd took the irie vibe of the show home with them after a thoroughly entertaining hour and a half of the best Reggae has to offer. I found it well worth the admission for a world class band in an intimate venue.