Concert Review: The Skatalites at La Ferme Gwernandour in BrassParts, France (March 18th, 2017)
Last month, on Saturday 18th of March, legendary Ska band The Skatalites performed in France at La Ferme Gwernandour (View pictures here). Those who had seen them live more than ten years ago, probably noticed the new faces who accompanied the original Queen of Ska Doreen Shaffer and long time members Val Douglas (bass), Sparrow Thompson (drums) and Ken Stewart (keyboards).
The band performed for about an hour and a half. They started with the anticipated classic “Freedom Sounds” after the crowd joined them for a count down from 10 to 0. For about 20 minutes, they played strictly instrumental Ska. First, the sweet “Garden of Love”, followed by the Ska version of the opening theme of the iconic James Bond movie. Then just before Doreen Shaffer came on stage, they played they highly festive “Latin Goes Ska”.
Here comes the Queen of Ska
When the Queen of Ska entered the sage, she blessed us with her grace and her voice as soft as silk. She performed a series of beautiful love songs such as “My Boy Lollipop”, “Golden Love”, “When I Fall In Love” and “Sugar Sugar”. During her 30 minute appearance, she also performed a nice rendition of “Nice Time”, made famous by Bob Marley & The Wailers in 1967. For a little while, Ken Stewart left his keyboards and frantically jumped and skanked to one of their first hits, “Simmer Down”, originally recorded alongside Bob Marley & The Wailers in 1964. Then, they seamlessly transitioned to “Turn Your Lamp Down Low”.
Right after that, Doreen Shaffer left. The Skatalites then switched to Reggae music. The guitarist, Natty Frenchy, introduced core members Sparrow Thompson and Val Douglas who both showed off their skills during a 10 minute Drum & Bass interpretation of the “Rock Fort Rock” riddim.
Every good thing comes to an end
The show was coming close to an end. The band returned to Ska and paid tribute to the late trombone player Rico Rodriguez with a song titled “Requiem For Rico”, which is featured on their latest album “Platinum Ska”. On a happier note, they kept going for about 10 more minutes with “Guns of Navarone”, during which the horn section threw some groovy licks reminiscent of Funk music, followed by “Phoenix City”. To wrap up the show, they performed “Freedom Sounds”, one more time, only to come back for more after alongside Doreen Shaffer after a short break.
I can only imagine it must have been something to see the original members gathered on stage in the 60’s. Yet I must say this show was one of a kind. And I can assure you, despite the changes of cast, the original spirit and vibe of the Skatalites still lives on.
Pictures of the show are available on our Facebook page. Do not hesitate to leave a comment and share this article with your friends.
01 – Freedom Sounds
02 – Garden Of Love
03 – James Bond
04 – Latin Goes Ska
05 – My Boy Lollipop
06 – Golden Love
07 – Nice Time
08 – When I Fall In Love
09 – Sugar Sugar
10 – Simmer Down -Turn Your Lamp Down Low
11 – Rock Fort Rock
12 – Requiem For Rico
13 – The Guns Of Navarone
14 – Phoenix City
15 – Freedom Sounds