It's been a pretty special evening. I went to see Linton Kwezi Johnson at the Civic tonight and he was a treat. For those who haven't heard of him see my post from March 4th for my pre-gig feverish rant.
I got to the gig about half-way through Dubwize's set and they were as usual laying down some great ragga, the crowd were way into it (as they always seem to be, Chch audiences being somewhat starved of good reggae) and the vibe was excellent.
It was a great cross-section of Chch subculture there, with a number of the usual faces that you'd expect for such a quality overseas artist. Including myself I guess, I've been here for long enough, know so many people, and am coming to terms with how visible I am... Ran into a few people that I hadn't seen for a while including an old flattie I hadn't seen for 12 years and some of the old rdu djs that I still get on with. But I'd gone by myself and was intent on just being there to see the man and not to chat (wasn't in a particularly convivial mood anyway... general misanthropy).
Which was a good thing since the 'gig' wasn't one you could talk through. About 10min after Dubwize wrapped up he came up onto the stage and just stood in front of the mic and his presence was enough to quiet the whole room (barring one annoying prick who just had to heckle. Idiot.)
I'd never seen LKJ before (although I'm quite familiar with his music & poetry) so I had no idea what he would be like. He has a commanding presence, demanding attention and respect, and an image (glasses, suit and hat) that hasn't changed much in 30 years. And it was interesting to find how stern and stony he is: how much his work is rooted in injustice and anger. Well, I guess not too suprising really considering the poems.
He did a cross-section of his work from the 70s through to the mid 90s, covering a number of my favorites (he did "Street 66" for the first time this tour which was fantastic especially since it's my all time fave), and gave some background and explanation before each poem. It was just great to see a pub full of people so quiet and focused on one man reciting poetry. I'm sure a bunch of the younger dub-heads (the smelly dread brigade) probably had no idea what it was going to be like and were possibly a little confused by the whole thing. Heh. Still the large contingent of baldies and grey-hairs (myself in both camps) seem to really dig it.
I don't want to make it sound like his stuff is entirely without humour, it's not, just that much of it is dealing with oppression, racism and death and does so with gravity. But there were lighter ones: "Mi Revalueshanary Fren" is hilarious and had a good response from the crowd. He finished on a lighter note with "If I Were a Top-Notch Poet", a response to critics dismissive of "so-called dub poetry".
IMHO he is a top-notch poet. If you get a chance and have any interest in reggae, go see him. Fabbo.
Note: Due to half drunken typing on monday I've only just retrieved this so apologies for the lateness. I'll let the thoughts expressed that night stand without editing because I stand by those opinions (just I'd be more coherent if I were to re-write, hey ho...)