LIVE REVIEW: Gentleman’s Dub Club, Boiler Shop, Newcastle, Sunday 1 March 2020

Gentleman’s Dub Club at the Boiler Shop in Newcastle. Pic: Sue Welford.

Originally hailing from Leeds, eight-piece dub reggae band Gentleman’s Dub Club brought the curtain down on their UK tour with a wonderful high-energy show at Newcastle’s Boiler Shop.

It was a performance that brought some much-needed sunshine and feel good factor into these recent wet and stormy times.

Formed in 2006, GDC’s first full-length album didn’t come until 2013 with the critically acclaimed FOURrtyFOUR, and the success of that album saw the band sign to legendary reggae label East Star Records.

The years since have seen the steady release of a series of impressive albums, the most recent being 2019’s excellent Lost In Space.

Gentleman’s Dub Club at the Boiler Shop in Newcastle. Pic: Sue Welford.

Tonight’s show was opened by Bristol MC Gardna. I only caught the tail end of his set, but it sounded good. Fortunately, there would be more to come from the up and coming sound system star during the main set.

Gentleman’s Dub Club appeared at 9pm sharp and they certainly looked sharp, performing, as always, in smart trousers, white shirt and ties, while lead singer Jonathan Scratchley sported a full suit which wouldn’t have been out of place at a wedding.

The band had the crowd singing along immediately with the catchy Music Is The Girl I Love from their second album The Big Smoke, and they then launched into some tracks from the more recent Lost In Space, including the excellent Stardust and Out Of This World.

Gentleman’s Dub Club at the Boiler Shop in Newcastle. Pic: Sue Welford.

All the band’s albums were represented in the setlist, with Dancing In The Breeze and Higher Ground from 2017’s Duptopia being particularly well received by a very enthusiastic Sunday evening crowd.

Gentleman’s Dub Club have always done a mean instrumental track and fans of those weren’t disappointed with the excellent horn section of Matt Roberts and Keiran Gallager coming to the fore on Gridlock.

A highlight for me was recent single 100%. The song features vocals by the fantastic reggae artist Bitty McLean, who wasn’t present tonight, but as drummer Tommy Evans wrote the song, he was brought forward to take on the vocals.

Now I know you’re probably thinking the same as I was: ‘great, but who’s going to play the drums?’.No problem for this lot, as percussionist Niall Lavelle shuffled into the drummer’s seat and didn’t miss a beat.

Gentleman’s Dub Club at the Boiler Shop in Newcastle. Pic: Sue Welford.

For the last section of the show, those who had arrived a little late to fully appreciate support act Gardna were relieved as the MC joined GDC onstage for Raised On The Amen, Rudeboy and Fire, and if anything the energy on stage and in the crowd actually managed to increase – quite some achievement.

After the briefest of breaks the band returned for an encore of the feel good Let A Little Love and finally an extended version of Gentleman’s Dub Club anthem High Grade, which definitely sent everyone in the crowd home on a high.

I’ve been a big fan of this band since their debut album, but this was the first chance I’ve had to see them live and I certainly wasn’t disappointed. It was obvious from the very first song that this is a band at the top of their game. They are incredibly tight and Jonathan Scratchley’s vocals are excellent. I’ll certainly be keeping an eye out for their next stop in the North East.

Andy Ball