Roddy Radiation and the Skabilly Rebels – Dub Jam Force – Rooted n Booted – Coventry Arches – live Review


Roddy Radiation and the Skabilly Rebels – Dub Jam Force – Rooted n Booted

Coventry Arches Venue

23rd December 2016

Two days before Christmas, I finished work at midday and Roddy is playing down the road. Perfect. After a couple of pints in a packed Irish pub we wander down to the venue and reminisce with old friends that appear from nowhere. There are Punks, Skinheads and Rudeboys. Rockers and Crusties, to say that the crowd is diverse is an understatement.

Rooted n Booted start off with an apology for not having a bassist and a plea to anyone who knows a bassist to get in Rooted_and_Booted-Fighting_Boedom-1touch. They explain that the set will be softer and more acoustic than usual. Unfortunately, this is the first time I’ve caught them and the music doesn’t feel complete without the bass. It’s reggae and ska based with angry lyrics, full of social commentary. The sound is laid back and cool and, I feel, less immediate than it would be with a complete rhythm section. They stand out by having a mixed group of male and female. The nod to Linton Kwesi Johnson shows class and they engage the audience. A good performance.

Dub_Jam_Force-Fighting_Boedom-8Dub Jam Force are punk, snotty and loud. They play protest songs and they play them well. The tempo moves up and down giving the sound an edge. The music is dark, menacing and rock hard. There is a reggae tinge but more along the lines of the nineties crusty bands like Culture Shock than what Rooted N Booted brought. The massive slabs of guitar throw the sound into a punk tinged area. Alongside the Culture Shock reference there is a tinge of the Levellers passion and sound here too, these guys could be massive.

I first saw Roddy Radiation with the Tearjerkers many years ago, the thing I remember most is that they covered theRoddy_Radiation_Skabilly_Rebels-Fighting_Boedom-3 Heartbreakers Born to Lose and I fell over drunkenly dancing. The next time was with the Bone Diggers and we djed for them, they were a brilliant rock’n’roll group. I caught the Specials on the first two reunion tours and there he was, holding the punk edge of one of my favourite bands together. I have tried to catch the Skabilly Rebels numerous times before but never managed to get to see them, family stuff has happened and so on, you all know what I mean. 
Roddy hasn’t been well, he’s been bedridden with flu but to see him playing and singing tonight you wouldn’t know it. His Jimmy Dean hair and white shirt with bootlace tie are spot on and the music is Rock’n’Roll skiffle that oozes cool. The pedigree is perfect, there’s an underscore of Ska but the main feeling is that this is Rockabilly Rebel Music.
The saxophone makes the music better and you can see as he plays that Roddy loves this, being on stage makes him who he is and makes us want to go see him. The guitar is high and clear. We get a smattering of the old Specials songs and they really are his. They bring smiles and dancing to the crowd and it feels right to hear them from the songwriter.
Roddy_Radiation_Skabilly_Rebels-Fighting_Boedom-12At one point they blast into the Munsters Theme at another the Sax channels the spirit of Clarence Clemons and all the time the songs are big and bad. The band are a perfect foil to his guitar and vocal.
I sing along and find myself moving to the beat. This band are at their best when they hit the rock’n’roll groove that so few of us understand nowadays. Those that do know that everything we love to listen to came from that caveman beat and it needs to be played loud in rooms like this for people who need to hear it. 
This isn’t retro, it’s an acknowledgement that this music is timeless, ageless and perfect. Roddy Radiation and the Skabilly Rebels are exactly what I needed on my last day of work before Christmas takes over for a week.  
Roddy Radiation & the Skabilly Rebels

Dub Jam Force

Rooted N Booted


Roddy Radiation’s website is and the Skabilly Rebels are on Facebook.

Dub Jam Forceare on Facebook.

Rooted n Booted are on Facebook and their website is

All words by Adrian Bloxham all pictures by Martin Ward.


Adrian Bloxham

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