Gentleman’s Dub Club – Live @ Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen
aaamusic | On 25, Nov 2012
London, 20th November
When a band is described as being “good at what they do”, it’s usually said as a way of sounding like one likes the band more than they actually do, most often to a friend or prospective screw that they don’t want to offend. Personally, I find that it all depends on the context. For example, saying that Exit_International are good at what they do, which is play distinctively Welsh, bass guitar led, electric guitar-less alternative punk rock, isn’t much of a compliment (although more than you might think). On the other hand; saying that Gentleman’s Dub Club are good at what they do, which is take a little black room in deepest, darkest Shoreditch, fill it with discerning music fans of all shapes and sizes, and make them collectively lose seven shades of shit over the course of an hour is a very big compliment. I’ve been to more than a few gigs in my time and I have rarely, if ever, seen every single member of a crowd, from the die-hards right down the front, all the way to the interested parties by the bar, go so utterly bananas. It takes more than most bands will ever have in their entire career to do that, and the GDC seem to have it before they’ve released their debut album. The bastards. The talented, outrageously well-dressed bastards.
Taking to the stage looking like a mafia made up entirely of the “Rugged” members of every boy band ever, the band launch into one of the most well-constructed set lists I’ve ever heard. Beginning with some of their… well, “subtler” is the wrong word, less enormous dub/ska work outs shall we say, they never settle into any comfort zones during the set, everything builds and builds until one wonders how much further they can go, or at least they would if they weren’t too busy dancing like maniacs. A couple of old favourites like Gentlemen’s Sleng are tossed out early on to put the crowd directly in the palm of singer Jonathan Scratchley’s hand, something helped by the fact that he is a firebrand of a frontman, like everyone’s best mate done good, skanking up a storm with the mother of all grins plastered on his face the whole night. Essentially, there isn’t all that much else to say about the night from that point onward except everything that’s already there builds, the drops get bigger, the dancing gets more animated, on stage and off, everyone gets sweatier (much sweatier) and the songs get heavier and heavier until a mighty Emergency destroys the place with relish. And they’re not done. Not quite.
Their best song and tonights closer, High Grade, seems on record to be an odd note to end on, being a lot more calm and melodic than most of what they do, but live it makes total sense. A hypnotic, building beast that generates one of the nights surprisingly few genuine sing-alongs before exploding into life and leaving everyone in the room dog tired and thoroughly satisfied. I’m calling it now, if by this time next year Gentleman’s Dub Club aren’t widely recognised as the single greatest festival band around then I will buck convention and eat my own shoes, while the songs might sound samey on record, the vitality, passion and sheer fun that is put into playing them live still makes these snappily dressed sensations unmissable. So, Gentleman’s Dub Club then, the best there is at what they do, and what they do is raise roofs, shake hips and put hands in the air, miss them at your peril.