Pama International / Don Letts / Newtown Kings / Wrong Tom

Vibraphonic Festival 2008 reviews

published: Tue 25th Mar 2008

Pama International

Friday 29th February to Sunday 16th March 2008
various venues across Exeter, Devon, EX4 3LS, England MAP
Various - free and from around £8 - £20
last updated: Mon 21st Jan 2008

Wrong Tom sets tonight's musical flavour playing ska records as people arrive for tonight's Vibraphonic experience sponsored by The North Bridge Inn at St. Davids. The tunes get heads bobbing and sets the (two) tone for the evening.

Newtown Kings


The first live act of the night is Newtown Kings a lively polished ten piece that create an irresistible off beat ska reggae groove. Lead singer Vox gets the crowd involved with a liberal dose of "Waa Ah Ohh"s. They're a great festival feel good act, making a full horn rich, driven, upbeat sound. 'Fire In The Hole', 'Stay On Your Feet' and 'Blah Blah Blah' are stand out tracks. The songs all carry a message too, be it racism, drugs, gambling or politics, don't let that put you off they sound great. Hopefully they will become a regular festival circuit act.

Don Letts


Don Letts is a musical hero of mine and his work on the decks tonight is genius. Mixing ska and dub reggae and throwing big tunes into the mix, he gets the crowds dancing and fills the air with some classic tunes with his trademark mixing, a real highlight of the evening.

This big night of reggae and ska is headlined by Pama International, who feature members from The Specials, Bentley Rhythm Ace, Pop Will Eat Itself, The Specials and The Selector. Their mix of soulful ska, rocksteady and dub gets the whole place (really from front to back) dancing. Pama International have had a few personnel changes for tonight's gig adding Neol Davies guitarist with The Selector and a new bass player, both replacing members taken from Lee 'Scratch' Perry's band.

Showcasing gently infectious material from their new album 'Love Filled Dub Band' the band take a risk opening with new tracks 'Wherever You Lead' and 'Lovely Wife' (amusingly dedicated to a lady down the front) and they go down a storm, the crowd lapping up the new tunes. Lynval and Neol create wonderful full sound and Finny's vocals are in rich, full form. We get three more tasters of the new album tonight and by the end of each one they feel like classic Pama songs. We get the old ones too, and the trademark reprises, the horn section are particularly noteworthy tonight, adding the occasional flourish and embellishing the rich sound. Band leader Sean Flowerdew on keyboards and Fuzz Townsend on drums also add depth to the sound, but it's Neol's fantastic guitar work which really works the crowd, surging us all into the beat and boosting the audience's dancing energy.

The band are clearly enjoying themselves Finny and Lynval do the talking and come the band intros and solos we all applaud their ska, dub, reggae feast loudly making them grin even more. A sensational evening, I've never seen so many people dancing in this venue before, by the last song, The Special's 'Message To You Rudy' literally everyone was moving and the atmosphere was wonderful. A top notch festival act and they delighted festival audiences tonight. Let's hope they're booked for a lot more festivals this summer.

Pama International

review by: Scott Williams

Friday 29th February to Sunday 16th March 2008
various venues across Exeter, Devon, EX4 3LS, England MAP
Various - free and from around £8 - £20
last updated: Mon 21st Jan 2008


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