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Issue 1084

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Marcia Griffiths & Friends: Shepherd's Bush Empire 28/08/15

Marcia Griffiths & Friends: Shepherd's Bush Empire 28/8/15 @bluesandsoul.com
Marcia Griffiths & Friends: Shepherd's Bush Empire 28/8/15 @bluesandsoul.com Judy Mowatt (Marcia Griffiths & Friends): Shepherd's Bush Empire 28/8/15 @bluesandsoul Bob Andy (Marcia Griffiths & Friends): Shepherd's Bush Empire 28/8/15 @bluesandsoul Marcia Griffiths & Bob Andy: Shepherd's Bush Empire 28/8/15 @bluesandoul.com Marcia Griffiths & Friends: Shepherd's Bush Empire 28/8/15 @bluesandsoul.com Marcia Griffiths & Friends: Shepherd's Bush Empire 28/8/15 @bluesandsoul.com Marcia Griffiths & Friends: Shepherd's Bush Empire 28/8/15 @bluesandsoul.com Marcia Griffiths & Friends: Shepherd's Bush Empire 28/8/15 @bluesandsoul.com Marcia Griffiths & Friends: Shepherd's Bush Empire 28/8/15 @bluesandsoul.com Bob Andy (Marcia Griffiths & Friends): Shepherd's Bush Empire 28/8/15 @bluesandsoul Bob Andy (Marcia Griffiths & Friends): Shepherd's Bush Empire 28/8/15 @bluesandsoul Judy Mowatt (Marcia Griffiths & Friends): Shepherd's Bush Empire 28/8/15 @bluesandsoul Judy Mowatt (Marcia Griffiths & Friends): Shepherd's Bush Empire 28/8/15 @bluesandsoul Judy Mowatt (Marcia Griffiths & Friends): Shepherd's Bush Empire 28/8/15 @bluesandsoul. Judy Mowatt (Marcia Griffiths & Friends): Shepherd's Bush Empire 28/8/15 @bluesandsoul Richie Spice (Marcia Griffiths & Friends): Shepherd's Bush Empire 28/8/15 @bluesandsoul Richie Spice (Marcia Griffiths & Friends): Shepherd's Bush Empire 28/8/15 @bluesandsoul Richie Spice (Marcia Griffiths & Friends): Shepherd's Bush Empire 28/8/15 @bluesandsoul Richie Spice (Marcia Griffiths & Friends): Shepherd's Bush Empire 28/8/15 @bluesandsoul

It’s been a good summer for reggae in London... up-and-coming icons Chronixx and Dre Island made their mark in the impressive setting of Somerset House, and days later heavyweights Bunny Wailer and Beres Hammond packed Brixton Academy to breaking point. We’ve also seen Protoje, Gyptian, Aysha Loren and Jimmy Cliff appear in the capital, and it’s no surprise when the artists say how much they love playing in the UK.

It was Shepherd’s Bush Empire’s turn to host some reggae legends, in a bill headed by the Queen of the genre herself, Marcia Griffiths. In an epic bill that started before 7pm, it boasted performances from Richie Spice, Bob Andy, Judy Mowatt, Tanya Stephens, The 809 Band, before the headliner took to the stage.

The early start time meant the venue slowly filled up as the acts appeared...when I arrived, Judy Mowatt – who found fame in the I Threes, backing Bob Marley & The Wailers, and whose 1980 solo “Black Woman” album is considered by many as THE best reggae LP by a female signer – was on stage.

Her voice was powerful, the crowd were singing along as she performed her impressive back catalogue, and it set the evening off to a fine start.

A resounding version of “Knocking On Heaven’s Door” showed why she could never remain in the background, and material from her seminal album showed the songs have not diminished with age.

Next up was one of the genre’s most influential songwriters, Bob Andy. Now in his early 70s, he was clearly moved by the strong reaction from the audience as he launched into hits including “Too Experienced” and “Fire Burning”. The 809 Band delivered some heavy basslines and the crowd were clearly loving seeing the reggae icon in action.

Richie Spice, whose “Marijuana” and “Youth Dem Cold” were 1990s anthems, followed him to the stage, and delivered a high energy performance.

This was not a show just about one artist – all the performers had their roles to play.

It was getting late by the time Griffiths appeared onstage, but she was worth the wait...a fellow former member of the I Threes, she’s recorded 14 albums since 1974’s “Sweet Better Love”.

Griffiths, a charismatic singer, energetically launched into her impressive back catalogue. And she wasn’t there to steal the limelight, with Bob Andy returning to the stage to duet on some of their classic Bob & Marcia material, including megahit “Young, Gifted and Black."

Fellow I-Three Judy Mowatt also returned to the stage, and the evening finished with a selection of Bob Marley and The Wailers tracks, including an impassioned version of “No Woman No Cry."

The headliner may have 50 years in the music industry under her belt, but her appetite is undiminished, and she left behind a satisfied crowd as the night finally drew to a close.
Words Dave Burke

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