“I decided my father’s work should go on. We will be chanting reggae music forever and ever”promised Kenyatta Hill, son of the late Joseph, once engineer for the harmony trio Culture, now its lead-singer. Judging by the decent sized gathering at the Islington Assembly Hall on the kind of cold day that can decimate a crowd for a London reggae show, it seemed the group’s fans agreed.
The Assembly Hall, as its name suggests, is not designed for live music. The sound is booming and hall-ish and dancing upon its notoriously bouncy wooden floor can leave punters feeling a little seasick. And there was bouncing a plenty as Kenyatta, along with delicate harmonies from original Culture member Albert Walker and 15 year stalwart Telford Nelson revisited some of the greatest songs from what the younger Hill called “My father’s cat”. The audience – including an unusually high number of London musicians – responded warmly to International Herb, Blood In A Babylon, Fussing and Fighting and many others besides.
Hill is not the same sinuous wild-eyed mover as his dad (who seemed to be floating on air under his bou bou robes). Taller and more imposing in build, he was a less mobile, commanding rather than beguiling presence: staying within the confines of centre stage, cupping his hand to his ear if he felt the reserved British crowd were not shouting loudly enough. His own voice had the familial nasal vulpine tone but with the throaty rockstone of a dancehall deejay – as demonstrated when he tookMoney Girl into an up-tempo verse. None of this dishonoured the memory of his father – who throughout his later life remained contemporary, working with the likes of Richie Spice and shouting “More fire!” during shows.