Live Review: By the Rivers, The Maze, Nottingham (12/01/14)

Leicester’s six piece, By the Rivers have succeeded in creating a fresh sound which is instantly recognisable. Their energy and catchy vocals made it impossible to resist the urge to sing, dance and downright skank during the gig.

I caught the end of Will Bailey’s set, which equated to a comedic, Frank Turner esque rendition of Spandau Ballet’s ‘Gold’. Local Nottingham boys Stuck In 2nd were up next, a surprising but welcome support, getting the crowd to their feet and emanating feel good surf reggae vibes into the small venue. I especially enjoyed lead vocalist Sam McKenzie’s djembe drum/ dreadlock combo. By the River’s Jordan, Nile and Sam eventually ran on stage and had no problem upholding the spirits of our small but happy crowd.

These smiling Leicestershire lads have expertly fused the melodies of soul and motown with ska, reggae and afro beats. The result is the rarity of a unique style that really can appeal to everyone. Their fusion of genres and easy stage presence deem them instantly likable, and they are fast gaining popularity having supported the likes of Madness, The Specials and Fun Lovin’ Criminals since their formation in 2010. The boys released their debut album ‘By the Rivers’ in May last year after the overwhelming support of singles ‘Take Control’, ‘One Word’ and ‘Don’t Say You Love Me’. Their gig covered all the album tracks and I honestly couldn’t fault the performance.

These guys are giving new relevance to British Reggae and are establishing a solid fan base both in the UK and across Europe. I would certainly recommend seeing them whilst they are touring, especially in an intimate venue such as the Maze in Nottingham. The stripped back acoustic set with just three vocals, a guitar and a melodica was awesome, perhaps a little short, but definitely not lacking in energy. Whether to see an acoustic set or the full band shebang with punchy brass accompaniments – catch them now before you have to pay £25 to see them at Rock City.

Liz Newman


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