Club Viva, Feb. 12, 2002


Words can barely do justice to what I witnessed last night at Club Viva. Midnite was simply unbelievable. These 5 guys laid down some of the wickedest roots reggae I've ever seen in my life, and I've seen some good shows. Got a few minutes before I gotta go to work, so here goes...

About 5 months ago I was fortunate to get their debut "Unpolished" from a friend. Crucial. After some contact with their manager, I received their latest, "Jubilees of Zion". Just wicked tunes. I then got "Ras Mek Peace" which might be my favorite of the three. Strictly roots...We emailed about a show in St. Louis and thankfully it materialized last night. I'm fortunate to co-host a radio show here and I pumped up this show like no other. Just from their records I knew they were something special. I just couldn't wait to see them live...

Got to the club at 8 and just chilled for awhile. People filing in. 11 p.m. was the start time I was told. Around 10 til 11 the band came in and I met Gainde (the keyboardist and "musical director.") Cool guy. Mentioned some songs and said I wanted to hear "Lion Wears The Crown" from Ras Mek Peace. He said probably not. They don't play that one. I then quickly introduced myself to the rest of the band through the smoke in their dressing room. Asked lead vocalist Vaughn about the tune and he said ya never know...

So at about 11:05 they take the stage (the place is packed) and start off with an unreleased tune. Right away I knew it was gonna be a magical evening. I was about 5 feet away dead center (this is a small club with the stage the same heighth as the floor). Gainde on keyboards was right center (to me) and he was having a blast. Guitar player behind him was cool. Drummer was hot. To the left was the bass player and he was smokin. And then there's the lead vocalist Vaughn Benjamin (Gainde's younger brother). Tall and lanky with incredible stage presence, he proceeded to knock me out for the next 2 hours straight! No breaks or nothin. Just strictly roots and culture. I'll tell ya, the man has a LOT to say, and even though I knew a lot of the tunes (and lyrics) he has this incredible speed-rap style which totally mesmerizes. Later in the show I was standing probably a foot away from him and it was intense... The band is as tight as I've ever heard in my life. They played many of their tunes different from the records and it was amazing. On "Due Reward" I remember they never even sang the title once. It was wild.

Some of the tunes if I can remember: Bushman, Rasta Man Stand, Love Right (Live Right), Jubilees Of Zion, Great Zimbabwe Walls, about 5 unreleased tracks which were unbelievable, Banking In The Pig, Batter Ram Sound, Kaaba Stone and some others. It was really incredible. And the coolest part to me was that they closed the show with "Lion Wears The Crown." I thought that was cool. The crazy thing is that after the show Gainde said that the bass player had never played it and the guitar player had never even heard it! And it sounded really tight...

I'm tellin ya, pick up their records and get behind this group. When they come to your town, DO NOT miss them. This is why I love reggae music, because of groups like them. Their records really are brilliant, but in concert they definitely have what it takes. Gainde was jumpin all around and was ready to take off, but he was grounded to the keyboards. Just imagine his hands on the keys and his body 3 feet to the side! He was great and had a continuous smile. They were all having a blast and again, lead vocalist Vaughn was just hard-core. His voice is incredible and he went non-stop for 120 minutes. No in-between song chatter or fancy endings, Midnite just laid down the roots...

Gotta roll. Once again, though, if they come in your area, DON'T miss em! Midnite will blow you away...