City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Review: Yellowman, The Bongo Club, 10 November 2009

By Euan Andrews - Posted on 17 November 2009

Show Details
The Bongo Club

Tonight is billed as “School night reggae”.  You wouldn’t think that from the audience.  The Bongo Club is heaving at the seams with an eclectic mixture of righteous students, trustafarians, groovy middle-aged types and refugees from the Trainspotting generation.  All rampantly up for it, they knock back the Red Stripe like there’s a global shortage approaching and slightly self-consciously sway from side to side.  Any thoughts of being in the office first thing the following morning have been given short shrift by this lot.

An excellent “club” atmosphere is built up before Yellowman takes the stage, courtesy of the DJ spinning old dancehall platters.  Once the Sagittarius Band shuffles on, the crowd is ready to move up a level.  The basic four-piece of guitar, bass, drums and keyboards crank up a groove, but there is no sign of King Yellowman.  This sparks fears that this could be one show where the headliner spends more time offstage than on.

Happily, they’re just getting us warmed up for him.  The former Winston Foster bounces onto the stage, dressed appropriately in a yellow tracksuit, with an energy belying his fifty-something age.

He looks, it must be said, like an animated cadaver.  Almost at the point of emaciation, his arms and legs are sticks flung out in all directions as he lopes and staggers around the stage like a deranged cartoon character, a guttural hoarse growl of a voice exhorting us, “Scartland”, to do the full “make-some-noise” deal.

It’s a fantastic performance and the crowd is totally under Yellowman’s spell.  The bar is drunk dry of Red Stripe; the atmosphere is pleasingly moist and sticky.  One groove runs seamlessly into another as Yellowman proclaims his refusal to leave the stage until we are satisfied.  “Satisfaction guaranteed”, he roars.  A half-hour medley seals the deal, peppered up with bizarre intrusions by “Blueberry Hill” and a snatch of Ennio Morricone.

Ninety minutes which leave us sated yet wanting more.  Yellowman gazes down at us and leaves us with wise words for the evening: “If you can’t be good, be nice.  If you can’t be nice, be good.  And if you can’t be good or nice, be careful”.