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Live Review: Natty and the Rebel Ship
March 31, 2016
The Islington Assembly Hall stands regal and proud on Upper Street and played home in more ways than one to reggae/ folk/ rock/ dance act, Natty and the Rebel Ship’s adoring fan base as they played a homecoming gig to end their UK album tour on March 17th. The tour was to share with the world the long-awaited second LP: Release The Fear, available now.
Not many artists could get away with as many forward slashes but the fact that his music transcends this many genres so seamlessly only serves to make his allure all the more appealing as we are taken on a journey for the feet and the heart throughout his packed out performance.
With warm up vibes from Hoxton Radio’s DJ Becca D to get us all in the mood, fresh sounds and beats were mixed in with old favourites like `bedroom eyes’. Natty’s loyal fan base was right with him all the way, singing the words in unison, and even had me caught in a bear hug with complete strangers at the bar. That’s just the effect he seems to have on people.
His personality is summed up perfectly via regular tweets from his Twitter account @nattymusic with a loyal following of nearly 7,000. He has inspired his fans by quoting ‘Be yourself, everyone else is taken’ – his life- affirming inspiration goes way beyond the chords of his self- penned songs.
Aside from sell-out UK tours, Natty spent some time away from the limelight to explore the world and experiment with a rich variety of sounds and music cultures – all of which are reflected in his new release (he did apologise for being away for a while and I think it’s safe to say the crowd were happy he was back).
Whilst away, he became involved in various charities and took this experience back to his hometown of North London as in his spare time, he now leads music workshops, mainly to the under-privileged. He has given workshops for homeless songwriters, prisoners, gang members and many more.
Taking a look at Natty’s upbringing evokes a flawless vision of how his eclectic mix of timeless reggae, romantic folk, infectious beats and catchy rock-inspired guitar lines have been collaborated. Born in the US and moving to North London as a toddler, his inspiration came from his English-Italian father and African mother as they exposed him to everything from Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Motown, Reggae and Afrobeat. He returned to the US in 2011 to support Ziggy Marley on tour.
As his old favourites like upbeat ‘Badman’ were laced in with some of his new album offerings, he did so much more than just play back to-back tracks with his talented Rebel Ship band. He spoke warmly to the crowd and highlighted the two choices we are all given in life – “ love or fear”, the former being all that is exuded from the gifted lifelong musician.
All that is left to say is that I sincerely hope a little bit of his infectious, ego-free positive spirit rubbed off on me as I swayed along, arm in arm with new found friends to the eclectic beats at the final leg of his UK tour.
Words by Elspeth Pierce
Like the sound of Natty? Check out the video for the lead single I’m Alive from the new album: Release The Fear here: