The London Souls Do Justice on Marley’s Birthday

Posted on Monday February 8th in

The London Souls – Brooklyn Bowl – February 6, 2016

Photos courtesy of Regan Kelly

The London Souls are chameleons: A shade to the left, they’re throbbing garage rock with an R&B jones; a shade to the right, they’re full-raunch Zeppelin or Hendrix with a ’60s-pop paint job. They jog whichever road links the Beatles and Little Richard to Sly and the Family Stone and Funkadelic. They’re a powerhouse that can do a lot and still manage to sound like themselves. And even as they’ve gone from four members to three to a duo with an occasional guest bassist, their sound has become fuller and more interesting.
The London Souls – Brooklyn Bowl – February 6, 2016

And while the London Souls might not have been the first band you’d think of to lead a salute to Bob Marley — on what would have been the reggae legend’s 71st birthday — you have an easy time thinking Robert Nesta would have loved these guys for all of that mojo. He’d also have appreciated what they didn’t do, which was hand over their entire 90-minute set to his music. Instead, they worked well-chosen Marley classics into what was an otherwise typically throttling London Souls show: Chris St. Hilaire’s pummeling drums and Tash Neal’s woozily soulful vocals and scorching guitar flights.
The London Souls – Brooklyn Bowl – February 6, 2016

They packed boogies, shuffles, psychedelic freak-outs, and angst into set staples like “Steady Are You Ready,” “The Sound,” and “Honey.” Neal had busted a string and gone hoarse by the time the hard-driving “She’s So Mad” closed the night. When they got to the Marley material about an hour in, a deft segue from Souls territory into the bouncing rhythms of “Could You Be Loved,” it was without fanfare. They didn’t want the Marley salute to be an event. Instead, they insisted it fit the London Souls model and they saluted the reggae icon not as a Marley cover band but as themselves — duo only, no special accoutrements or backup singers, just a depth and feel for songs like “Turn Your Lights Down Low” and, superbly, “Lively Up Yourself,” and why those songs remain so sturdy. The London Souls locked into loping, silky-at-times reggae grooves but left them a little scuffed up too. They paid tribute but remained themselves.
—Chad Berndtson | @cberndtson



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