The 9-strong collective brought their unique blend of dub, ska and dnb to Nottingham's Rescue Rooms as part of their nationwide 100% tour.
When nine men dressed in full rudeboy suits strolled onstage to their respective instruments, you’d have been forgiven for initially wondering whether a rogue branch of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra had got lost and ended up at Rescue Rooms. That, however, is where the similarities between them and Gentleman’s Dub Club end. The collective were in Nottingham as part of their nationwide tour entitled 100% – named after their latest EP released at the end of last year – and, true to form, they gave nothing less.
After a stellar support set from Bristol-based MC Gardna, the crowd – a diverse mix ranging from middle-aged hippies to die-hard rudeboys to students – were shifting restlessly, impatient to see the band famed for their incredibly high-energy performances and festival sets. Formed in 2006, Gentleman’s Dub Club herald from Leeds where they all met as students, bonding through their shared love of the scene. Grown out of the 1960s reinvention of traditional roots reggae, dub music is characterised by its amalgamation of sounds, and the genre’s emphasis on the drum and bass elements of tracks creates spacious arrangements in which instruments drift in and out, giving them a somewhat trance-like feel.
That being said, Gentleman’s Dub Club have a decidedly 21st century take on the genre, which only becomes fully apparent through witnessing their live performance. Onstage were Toby Davies (bass, synths, vocals), Luke Allwood (keyboard, vocals), Matt Roberts (trumpet), Kieren Gallager (sax), Nick Tyson (guitar), Niall Lavelle (percussion), Tommy Evans (drums), Harry Devenish (sound engineer,) and ringleader Jonathan Scratchley (vocals), whose chaotic energy infected the audience from the get-go.
'Inevitably, the crowd quickly and loudly began to call for an encore; needless to say, our call was answered as the band swaggered back onstage, brimming with happiness and more than a little hyped up'.
The majority of the set was made up of tracks from their latest album, 2019’s Lost In Space, of which Stardust, Out of This World and Midnight Healing proved to be particular crowd favourites. In keeping with the record’s title, the astronomical theme threaded throughout is epitomised by the former’s chorus: ‘stardust rushing through my bloodstream / I wanna go faster / I’ve found myself lost in space’.
Slowing it down a bit, Earthquake – which was introduced as a belated Valentine’s Day gift from them to us – gave everyone an opportunity for a little respite, its groovy brass sections lending themselves to Scratchley’s hypnotising dance moves. This moment of relative calm didn’t last long however, as Dancing In The Breeze (from 2017’s Dubtopia) and latest single 100% (feat. Bitty Mclean) got the crowd surging again, waves of movement rippling through the room like seismic aftershocks.
Keeping up this high energy, support artist Gardna rejoined the collective to perform fan favourite Rudeboy, which appears on Pound for Pound – the collective’s collaboration album with another sweetheart of the scene, The Nextmen. Following the track’s triumphant finish, all ten people onstage (just as well they didn’t play The Bodega, really) finally headed off, incredibly sweaty but looking like they’d had the time of their lives. Inevitably, the crowd quickly and loudly began to call for an encore; needless to say, our call was answered as the band swaggered back onstage, brimming with happiness and more than a little hyped up. They delivered the anthemic and unavoidably catchy Let A Little Love before offering a final outlet for the room’s buzzing sense of anticipation in the form of their best-known track, High Grade.
By the end of the night, even the most determined to stay still in the crowd had been won over, no doubt by the infectious, almost giddy attitudes of each and every member of Gentleman’s Dub Club. What really stuck out was just how ecstatic they all seemed to be there, playing and sharing the music they clearly adore. This mood extended to everyone else in attendance, making the overall feeling of the gig one of celebration – of what, I’m not quite sure, but their show at Rescue Rooms demonstrated that sometimes, no excuse is necessary.