Raise the Roof

Vox Warehouse was the venue last weekend for a take-over by the tin foil clad, fairy lit masses. The ‘Space’ themed ‘Raise the Roof’ festival, a biannual congregation of the maddest and fluffiest, can best be described as a psychedelic mix of great atmosphere and truly great music. Genres meet in unlikely but complementary marriages (ska, reggae, afro-beat and a bit of electronic), in an environment in which extraordinary attention to detail is paid to lighting and decor. RTR is an unpredictable experience; with more body paint and silver spandex than any normal human is used to…

Leeds band ‘Benson’ opened the proceedings with an energetic performance and a huge amount of audience interaction. Their attitude was reminiscent of the Madness days, musical entertainment through genuine passion. No props, no theatre; just guys with attitude. ‘Crowd Pleaser’ worked a treat on the extremely dance happy audience. Catchy, simple lyrics surrounded by cheery brass melodies. 

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The promo material for RTR described the second band on the line- up, ‘Middleman’, as ‘Leeds legends’, a term most definately not to be sniffed at. They are loud, youthful souls that are extremely hard to define in terms of genre. At times their music even flickers with notes of hip hop and garage but in the end, they come across as a band that does exactly what ever they want to do; indefinable and passionate. Frontman, Andy Craven-Griffiths’ lyrics about every-day annoyances, spat over a musical backdrop that seems to build on his words, flow effortlessly, working together to create relatable, inspiring music.

Headliners ‘The Beat’ were originally formed in the 70’s, returning in 2003 with a few different faces but the same quality tunes. They are now back complete with charismatic lead Ranking Roger, accompanied by his son, Ranking Jr. The set was full of musical gems, ‘Hands off she’s mine’ has a rugged reggae drum beat, impossible to sit still to and endlessly catchy. ‘Too Nice to Talk to’ relied more on its brass instruments, deliciously jazzy bars interwoven with Ranking’s silky sound. ‘Two Swords’ was introduced as anti-racist, honest and passionately chanted- ‘How could I hate them so violently?’ However, if you shut your eyes you’re wiggling in a carefree way at a festival somewhere. The set kept a chilled-out vibe throughout, the band quite modestly returning for their encore and delivering ‘Jackpot’, with the same ease and humble pride as the rest of the set. 

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Ten-piece afro-beat stunners ‘Nubiyan Twist’, led by the sensational Nubiya Brandon, carried on the party in style, managing to create a completely understated miracle for so many people stood on stage. With no less than three saxophonists, a trombone and a trumpet; Nubiyan Twist are serial genre terrorists. Sometimes solid reggae, sometimes straight afro-beat, sometimes veering into hip hop territory. ‘Pull It’ was a set favourite- the triggered FX rounding up the mass of brass grooves into something totally impressive.

A bizarre but fantastic evening, not shy of robots or brave men in leggings, with a late DJ set by Dub Pistols frontman Barry Ashworth to keep the crowd on their feet, RTR must be one the gems of the UK club circuit. Here at JAM we give it a triple thumbs up, that right, triple! One more hand than you actually have. Make sure you do yourself a favour and score a ticket when it returns in the autumn. See you on the dance floor!

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Words: Bryony Rae Taylor

Images: Scott M Salt 

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