WHILE the rain washed down upon tens of thousands at the huge Stone Roses show across the city, one love of a more intimate variety was playing out here.
In the darkened box of the ABC’s downstairs room, classic British reggae band Misty in Roots were dishing out lazily focused rays of summer sunshine and lover’s rock to a packed crowd, while a stall served smoky jerk chicken and goat curry.
Led by Walford Tyson, brother of their late co-vocalist Delvin, the eight-strong group were packed tightly onto the stage, including a pair of horn players huddled at the back. Always a band with a political consciousness – including a frontline role with Rock Against Racism and in protests against the National Front in their earlier days – they wore the polemic with a light-touch surety here. Formed in Southall, West London, in 1974, most of the band wore traditional African garb, with Tyson joking “you look at us, you think we’re from Africa” before the acutely sharp commentary on Western encroachment into the continent that is West Livity.
It was a show which combined warm and approachable grooves based on deep basslines and leisurely, chiming guitar riffs with a sense of renewed purpose as the political divisions of the 1980s resurface in Britain. It’s a point Tyson made himself in the introduction and the lyric of On the Road, that “good times are over… these are black man times again”, while Ghetto of the City and See Them Ah Come from their classic debut Live at the Counter Eurovision ’79 were as powerfully relevant slices of state of the nation scene-setting as you’re likely to hear.