Now this is an opportunity that doesn’t happen too often. The chance to see one of the finest ska bands that ever existed, the Ska-talites. Actually in my adopted home city of York too. Anyway before I talk of the ska giants let me tell you about the support. Opener was the rather excellent ska DJ team Bangarang with some truly superb ska and reggae tunes to set the scene for the evening. The support band was the Magnificent 7, one of York’s finest young bands and purveyors of authentic, skillful and fun ska punk, ska, pop punk and hip hop. Well the latter is largely down to their excellent cover of the Eminem classic “Lose Yourself” which works really well with a ska punk arrangement. Their own compositions are pretty damned good too and oh boy did it look like they were having fun on that stage. On stage dancer of the night award should probably go to the trombone player from the Magnificent 7.
So now it was time for a band that originally formed in the mid 60s. Whilst there are hardly any original members left the spirit lives on and a band that had reggae greats Tommy McCook, Don Drummond and Roland Alphonso in their membership originally clearly has a great heritage. The Ska-talites are mainly an instrumental band and the first part of their set showed just how good an instrumental band they are with tunes like “Confucius” and “Latin Goes Ska”. Later in the set they were joined by reggae and ska goddess Doreen Shaffer on vocals for a few songs. Notably “My Boy Lollipop“, “Sugar Sugar” (not the Archies song), a very classy “Simmer Down” and one of my favourites “Nice Time”. The latter is a wonderful Bob Marley composition that I first heard via the Johnny Nash version in 1974. Doreen Shaffer must be over 70 now and she has aged incredibly well and she still has the vocals of a much younger woman. After she left the stage the band showcased their individual talents and frankly there is not a single weak link in this band. They closed with and amazing extended romp through their 1967 UK top 40 hit cover of the theme from the “Guns Of Navarone”. They closed with “Phoenix City” which was originally recorded by Roland Alphonso back in 1966. We also got to hear the Freedom countdown twice too. So if you didn’t get to Fibbers tonight why not? I expect a signed excuse from your parents or guardians in my pigeon-hole tomorrow. 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 ……… FREEDOM!