‘Watch this space’. Those were the final words Outlook co-founder Johnny Scratchley delivered to a rapturous audience at East London’s Troxy, before he dropped the mic to bring closure on the Outlook Orchestra’s sign-off gig in October.
Turns out we didn’t need to watch for long, as the Orchestra’s comeback has already been added to the diary. On 2 March 2018, they will return to the Royal Festival Hall stage they emphatically tore up, back in January 2017.
Initially formed as a bespoke musical project to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Outlook, Europe’s largest Soundsystem Culture festival, the 25-piece Outlook Orchestra features some of the UK’s finest musicians. Led by conductor Tommy Evans, the orchestra includes two drummers in an extended rhythm section, to give an incredible genre-straddling sound that, on its last appearance here, connected remarkable horn and string sections to some of the biggest and boldest MCs and around, like junglist pioneer General Levy.
For their 2018 return, the Outlook Orchestra aims to turn its attention specifically to Jamaica, giving focus to the reggae, dubstep and dancehall that together make up the soundtrack of the Caribbean island. And who better to look to, to curate such a musical mission than the iconic selector, broadcaster and DJ, David ‘RAM JAM’ Rodigan MBE.
Born in Germany, raised in rural Oxfordshire, the son of an Army Sergeant Major, it’s fair to say Rodigan is something of an unlikely ambassador for reggae. But this diminutive man with his received pronunciation, is a massive figure in Caribbean music. As the music of Jamaica has morphed over five decades through a succession of different genres Rodigan has remained it’s constant champion on British airwaves; winning the respect of generations of reggae followers across the globe.
But whilst his name may have been made on the airwaves, it’s in the clubs, the music halls and at the festivals that Rodigan has cemented his reputation as, in the words of DJ Annie Mac, ‘a force of nature’. He may now be of retirement age, but Rodigan still lives for the soundsystem Clashes. ‘You love this don’t you,’ says Andrew Neil in the above interview on This Week, a suggestion which, as you’ll see from watching Rodigan in action (below), could be deemed something of an understatement.
It all points to a remarkable night at Southbank Centre as the precision and perfection of the Outlook Orchestra meet the passion and performance of David Rodigan, in a celebration of some of the most important riddims and classic recordings from the DJ’s forty years in the business.
This celebratory show journeying from the early days of ska and rocksteady through to dancehall, dubstep and jungle, with David Rodigan, the Outlook Orchestra, and special guests, takes place at Royal Festival Hall on Friday 2 March 2018.
Tickets are now sold out, but please check back as we may have more on sale nearer the time.
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