Reggae revivalists on fire



Smoke filled The Great Northern, Byron Bay, last Saturday – appropriately considering the crowd had gathered for the prophetical reggae anthems of Katchafire. It wasn’t clear what had caught fire though. Solid reggae support Raz Bin Sam & The Lion I Band had people shuffling on the dance floor earlier, but the floorboards weren’t alight.

As a few people in the crowd began contemplating the smoke’s origins, a booming synthesiser erupted until the point of unbearable loudness and lights started circling like an alien spaceship landing. The Kiwi eight-piece had arrived. The title track from Katchafire’s new and fourth album, On The Road Again, was the opening song. The lyrics include many of the world’s cities, symbolising how Katchafire’s traditional approach to reggae music has been well-received worldwide.

The all-Maori band started out as a Bob Marley tribute act in 1997 and their musical formula remains remarkably similar to that which Bob Marley and The Wailers pioneered.

Lead guitarist Grenville Bell is the father of singer-guitarist Logan Bell and drummer Jordan Bell and the close relationship between all the dedicated reggae revivalists was obvious on stage. Logan’s smooth vocal delivery was appreciated by the crowd, who sang passionately along to older tunes, including Who You With and Giddy Up.

An introduction to the funkier and much meaner Sensimillia was dramatic. It sounded like a storm rolling in.

When the rhythm section kicked in the crowd began dancing furiously and once again belted out the lyrics. This was the high point of the night.

Most attendees could sing the lyrics – a credit to the band’s hooks and relentless touring efforts.




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