For such a lovely man, Adrian Sherwood has a fearsome reputation. There were acolytes in this eager audience who still speak in dazed tones about his disorientating contribution as sound engineer to a venue-quaking Voodoo Rooms concert by his fellow Bristolian agitator Mark Stewart a few years ago. Some are still trying to locate their displaced internal organs.
Adrian Sherwood ***
King Tut’s, Glasgow
Alas – or mercifully, depending on one’s appetite for disturbance – there was little in the way of sonic disruption at this headline show. As founder of the On-U Sound label and sound system, Sherwood has been a passionate ambassador for dub reggae shot through with punk spirit since the late 1970s, but this appearance was less a display of his sound manipulation skills than a diverting DJ set from a knowledgeable fan with a superior record collection – well curated but polite, and frankly far too quiet by his foundation-shaking standards.
His signature bass tremors were often sidelined in favour of some sweet roots reggae or classic dub cuts such as Max Romeo’s Chase the Devil, memorably sampled a quarter of a century ago by The Prodigy on their Out of Space single, with these tuneful but tame reverberations occasionally supplemented by the thwack of a single drumstick on a synth pad.
Later in his 90-minute set there were moments when Sherwood ramped up the reverb and deepened those bass frequencies to more arresting levels, but such gratification was too delayed to turn this pleasing club set into an immersive live show.