CQAF: The Selecter – Festival Marquee, Belfast

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After chatting recently to Pauline Black [here], iconic front women of  for The Selecter, I was eagerly anticipating their show as part of the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival.

My third show of the week and this was the one that I had most bee looking forward to. Having been an old school fan of the ska genre since its inception, they were the only band of that ilk that I had to check off my live bucket list.

Ably filling tonight’s support slot where the uniquely named Boss Sound Manifesto. This consisted not of a DJ set – as I had anticipated – but rather a fine five-piece reggae and ska band from Belfast.

The band consists of Cormac “Buzz” Ó Briain on vocals and saxophone, Máirtín Ó Briain – Cormac’s brother – who learnt bass and his love of reggae as a guitarist in many bands throughout the years, Brendan McCurry who took to organ playing when the band realised it would be difficult to find another organ player who plays in a similar style locally,  Kieran “Sauce” Mc Curry  who brings killer hooks and fills to the line-up on lead guitar and, last but not least, Marty Malone on drums who particularly impressed with his technique and ability through their support set.

Interjecting humour with his song intros and subject matter, the band infused dance-ability to a willing audience. Within the opening few numbers a large crowd had make the dance floor their own. I was very impressed with the band, both with the quality of their own material and their musical ability.

The tour was being  billed as the Too Much  Pressure 35th Anniversary concert, marking their debut album. It was clear therefore that that release would play a prominent role in The Selecter’s set this evening. However where the band differ from many of their peers is that they have continued to release strong modern albums, fusing a successful balance of old and the new. This keeps the music fresh both for the band and the audience.

One thing that always puts a smile on my face is the sheer dance-ability groove of ska as a musical genre. This traverses the age brackets and resulted in a wide-ranging audience all strutting their dance floor wares – some considerably better than others.

The Selecters seminal debut successfully fused punk, ska and reggae. This album successfully reflected the social and political  issues of the early Thatcher years in Britain – it gave a voice to disaffected youth  across the racial divide. The band continues to be fronted by the original singing duo of Pauline Black – the female icon of the Two-Tone era – and Arthur “Gaps” Hendrickson. The set delivered as expected the debut album plus several modern day anthems.

With the bands catalogue of hits – and all delivered in a manner which had many visiting their teenage years – they could do no wrong in my eyes. Hit followed hit as the dancing spread throughout a packed to capacity Festival Marquee. Classic hits like “Three Minute Hero”, “Missing Words”, “On My Radio”, “James Bond” and of course “Too Much Pressure.”

I hope that they keep to their promise of pencilling a Belfast date on their forthcoming  UK tour. The Selecter fully lived up to all my expectations. Third show of this years Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival – a hat trick – and I will definitely be returning next year for many more. Review by Mark Dean, GiggingNI.com – Photos by Kevin Cobb.