Pama International, Live Theatre Newcastle 19/12/09

I’ve been to see a lot of ska and reggae bands whose members fall in the age group of 35plus, and it has to be said that an awful lot of these bands are doing the circuit on the back of one or two members having been involved in the making of a minor or major hit or two in the 80s, so the usual crack is the band goes through a medley of other peoples hits with varying degrees of success, then trot out the songs with the alleged allegiance to the band in the encore, and to be honest its been a bit embarrassing on occasions, but I have to confess to feeling that the people involved have to make the best of what ‘success’ the fickle music biz has thrown at them ; so good luck.
Pama International are a different kettle of fish altogether.
They do fall into that age group, some a bit younger (possibly) and some a fair bit older (no names here) but where they differ entirely is that they have , even after many years of laboriously gigging the country, held onto their ’cool’.
Their ability to turn out new material never falters, and they look as likely now to turn up on mainstream TV/radio as they ever did, and just as unlikely to chuck some slack covers into the set just to get the punters dancing.
The crowd at the live theatre Newcastle needed no encouragement this time round, Pamas recent visits to the region with better known bands have at last made them a draw in their own right, so when the front line of sharp suited mod/skin hybrids kicked off, backed by bass and drum Rasta man stylee, it was skankin straight off the mark.
The band slide from lovers rock to Sk. Ska, then stretch some songs into soulful showpieces for lead man Finnys tremendous voice…the band look deliriously happy and chuffed to be here, songwriter Sean Flowerdew belting seven bells out of an ancient keyboard, physically shaking it on the stand to emphasise the soaring riffs.
With bass and drummer laughing at each other as they effortlessly slot the rock solid rhythms together, the atmosphere of fun and great tunes got the whole venue into the vibe. With a very wide age group present (student to original mods) it should have been a hard task to please everybody, but everyone shouted the band back onto the stage, with PAMA obliging for an extended set of even more original and as yet (for the majority of GB) mostly unknown songs.
It’s a pity we weren’t all buying Pamas latest offering (PAMA OUTERNATIONAL)as a respite from X factor….it’s a gem, managing to put worthy messages into songs (equality and justice for all) without sounding ‘feed the world‘ cheesy, and doing love songs (I still love you more) that will melt the hearts of girls for years to come.
On this outing, Pama mixed the new album with older gems ( including the classic ‘penny wise pound fool‘) showing a continuum of class..far outweighing their present ‘status’ as a live band. They wont be available at £12 a ticket for much longer, catch them soon.!

By Tony on January 9, 2010

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