Easy All Stars @ o2 Academy

For a group to take an album that is fuelled with pre-millennial anxiety, and restructure and perform it at a time of torturous post-millennial uncertainty, and make it a joyous celebratory experience is quite some feat.

But that is essentially what Easy All Stars achieved at their show at the O2 Academy where they celebrated ten years since the release of Radiodread; their dub tribute to Radiohead’s seminal 1997 album OK Computer.

The wonderfully mixed bag of individuals that makes up the group don’t enter the stage with any hoo-haa but opt to trudge on, one-by-one, as Dubcentral DJs interspersed music playing over the PA.

They break into Airbag, wherein Johnny Greenwood’s blistering guitar riff that opens the record is instead an intertwining of saxophone and trombone. It is a wonderful juxtaposition from the bleak and desolate original: the sort that will rear its head throughout the show.

The Brooklyn based collective, made up of affiliates to Easy Star Records, proceed to play a good portion of the songs from Radiodread, a couple of originals and some of their remarkable covers of other artists.

With the singers of virtually every song rotating, there is a fresh approach to each song. Michael Jackson’s ‘Beat It’ is as infectious as the original and ‘Lovely Rita’, taken from their Beatles’ cover album Sgt Peppers’ Lonely Hearts Dub Band, is a glorious moment.

In between songs the tightly knitted group jam naturally and their MC makes some wonderful, if not incomprehensible, noises that have the crowd swaying and bopping in unison like a grinning, dreadlocked sea.

‘Breathe’, ‘Money’ and ‘Time’ are taken from their name-making 2003 release Dub Side Of The Moon, which effortlessly switches otherworldly rock for avant garde dub to keep firmly in tact the album’s expansive and cathartic experience. Performed live it’s something to behold.

But it’s Radiodread that the group are celebrating and they deliver these songs with a session musician-like craftsmanship that never once loses the feeling of fun. ‘Climbing Up The Walls’ is a haunting number, ‘Let Down’ is simply better than the original and ‘Electioneering’ closes the first set with aplomb.

Though not taken from the album in question, ‘High and Dry’ is a particular highlight, as the group seems to revel in its beautiful simplicity.

The group fist bump fans throughout and when it comes to finishing on ‘Karma Police’, there’s a rapturous response that has the crowd surging forward with their fists to the group aloft. No fist is left unbumped and the sense of unbounded togetherness that permeated the whole gig bobs its way out into the night.

Words: Charles Gray

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