Bagdad Cafe The Trench Town
Reggae's popularity in Japan continues, as evidenced by the healthy crowd that trekked all the way over to the Orange Court this morning for an 11 am set by Bagdad Cafe The Trench Town. Believe me, I made the hike. If you're headed here from your campsite or hotel, you're a fan.
Fandom for this 11-peice is completely understandable. With a tenor sax and trombone player on top of the standard guitar/bass/drum/keyboard ensemble, Bagdad Cafe create a slick brand of reggae that I've dubbed reggae soul. Does that term exist? I hope not, I like making up terms.
Anyway, slick doesn't mean inauthentic, as these cats were truly about the reggae spirit. Fronting the ensemble were three female vocalists. The two back-up singers were dressed in full Jamaican wear, with the lead vocalist in a tight gold and black dress that flared at the bottom, and a head wrap that would make Erykah Badu proud - maybe even jealous. She was undoubtedly the leader of the band, and in some ways, the conductor of the audience. In several of the tunes, the band softened up so she could address the audience about the spirit of reggae and enjoying life. A few audience participation moments came out of these breaks as well, which suited everyone fine and stretched out the songs into fairly lengthy reggae jams.
The band were crackerjack (a nice, old-timey word that) and the singers in the background hit all the right reggae beats with their Trenchtown harmonies.
"Minna, party time!" the singer told the audience, and the audience responded by cheering and swaying for the entire set. Hot sun and reggae beat out the early hour. Or is it ever too early for a Fuji crowd?
photos by Yusuke Kitamura
Reported by James Tennant (2008.07.27 / 13:39)